So Thankful!

This week we had a trip, it was to celebrate our anniversary. The whole plan was to leave the kids and the pets behind with my sister who took the challenge like a champ. We had it all planned out, and then our dog Jorj put a little kink in the wheels. He had been acting a little weird a couple of days before we were to leave so I decided to get some bloodwork done on him since the pain meds that I thought he needed were not really cutting it. When I got the results I wanted to get swallowed up into the biggest hole I could be put in. He was anemic and not just anemic but he had the kind in which his body was attacking itself. We had to act quick and get him started on steroids and the ever so yummy liver. I wanted to cancel my trip, I wanted to just stare at him and hope that by me staring at him he would all of a sudden be better. Jorj is my “old man”, he has always had a medical issue to contend with. This was just another hit to system, but for some reason, I still had worry racking at me, but I also had this weird peace that even if I decided to still do my trip with my hubby that all would be alright.

We decided with a little help from my sister’s kick out the door that we would go on our trip. Each day I would get an update, sometimes more than once that Jorj was improving. I got pictures of him counter surfing, to the update today that he raced out to the back fence with our other dog Charlie. I have had to do hard things in the past, but leaving Jorj was a different kind of hard. I was asking my sister to do what she could to keep my dog alive and my Vet was doing what she could to help the situation. Because of this, my trip still happened, to which I am so thankful.

My hubby and I celebrated our anniversary this week. We have always been there for each other, and so of course we were again when this hit. We needed to get away though. We needed a break from life, so that we could connect again with each other, and just have fun. We took the time we had and had great food, long walks and a trip along a zipline through canyons with views of the ocean. We talked and walked, and walked some more. The place we went hadn’t changed really all that much from when we were there 9 years ago or when we were there 20 years ago, but it got us dreaming again. How fun would it be to take our family there? We have kids that will be out of the house sooner than later. We have kids that are still willing to hang out with their parents, and we have extended family that has fun when we get together. Plans started forming (at least in our minds). Why not go somewhere new together?

As I sit here in a state of thanksgiving (the turkey cooking helps a lot), I am so thankful that my Jorj dog is doing better and that my sister helped in making it possible for us to go on our trip. I am thankful for my veterinarian who was there when I needed her (she is amazing that way). I am thankful for my family, and for the people I don’t even know that made the adventures I had in the last few days amazing. I am thankful that my hubby loves me and I love him. I am thankful I don’t actually have to cook a Thanksgiving dinner but I get to enjoy the dinner that is being made. I am thankful for turkey to have vs. a package of pre-cooked turkey (sorry sis) that my kids and their aunt get to have because of kids who are very picky. I am thankful, not because life is easy, but because even when life gets hard good can still happen. I leave with my parent’s dog nudging my elbow, and a good book ready to be read. Happy Thanksgiving! Until next time:

You can’t calm the storm. What you can do is calm yourself, and the storm will eventually pass. The most powerful and practical changes happen when you decide to take control of what you do have power over, instead of craving control over what you don’t.

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Marc Andangel
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Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

If Mom Can’t Find It, No One Can

I remember one time when I was younger, I had lost something that was my dads. He hadn’t gotten home from work yet, but my mom knew that he would want what I had lost once he was home. She did what every mom would do she asked me where it was. I responded like most kids would and said “I don’t know, I didn’t have it” and so she asked my siblings the same question and found that I was in fact the last one in possession of this object. So she asked again. This time I came clean and said “I don’t remember”. Instead of my mom going into a rant about how I should be more responsible, she simply put my nose in a corner and said I could leave said corner when I could remember where I placed the lost object. Needless to say, it took a bit longer for my memory to come up with the answer, so my mom went into “mom mode”. Did you know this mode is magic? The house may have been torn apart but the lost was found way before my dad came home to notice the object was missing.

Today as I was talking to momma Mary I brought up the fact that all of the pens in the clinic have disappeared. I also brought up that the sharpies, packing tape and even the thermometers have gone missing ever since we started moving things around. I threatened to start having our co-workers empty their pockets before leaving but she looked at me like I was crazy. As I was ranting about the missing items I was reminded that when we started to re-organize the person that was doing a lot of the moving around was no longer with the clinic and so finding said items may not happen. That was pretty much motivation she needed to go into “mom mode”. By the time I had gotten back from my appointment she had found pens and two packages of sharpies. She didn’t have time to look for the thermometers and packing tape but I have no doubt by tomorrow afternoon all will be found.

Christ talks about finding as well. In Luke alone He brought up how a shepherd noticed one of his 100 sheep was missing, so he left his 99 sheep to go out and find the lost one. Christ then brings up a woman who had 10 coins, not 100 or a 1000 but 10 and she lost one. She searched high and low (mom mode was in full swing I am sure) until she found that tenth coin. His last story in Luke 15 was about a lost son. The man’s youngest son wanted his portion of his inheritance, he wanted to get out of his dad’s house and go live on his own. He did this for a while but was very irresponsible with his money and how he lived. So much so that he ran out of money, couldn’t get a job and ended up eating and living with pigs, literally. This is when he came to his senses, he knew that if he just went home at least his dad would give him a job and he could eat with the servants. When he was still a ways off his dad (who had been looking and waiting for him) saw him and instead of scoffing and being angry at his son, he ran to him. His son was lost but was now found.

Sometimes I picture Christ going into “mom mode”. We are all lost. It is noticeable with some people, while others no one would ever know they were lost. Christ knows our hearts. He knows when we are straying and going down a different path. He will search for us, but we also have to want to be found. Unlike moms in search of the elusive toy or tool that their child or husband has lost, Christ will search for us and seek us but we have to make the choice to be found. I love that we are given the choice but being a momma of teenagers it scares me have to death knowing they may choose to go away from Christ. I can lead them to where they were lost but I can’t find their faith for them. This is where my faith in Christ’s “mom mode” must be strong enough to know His love for them is more powerful than my fear of loosing them to this world. Until next time:

Strong? No, my friend, I am far from it. What you’re seeing is simply a weak person with a very strong God.

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Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

Communities

There has been an on going theme over the last couple of months that has everything to do with community. As my pastor just preached at the midweek service we can’t be a me without the we. We are meant to be in community with others. This spoke volumes when I decided that it was easier to figure things out on my own. I had gotten to a point in which I felt I could do things not necessarily better, in a way I felt they should get done if I just did them myself. This is a very selfish way of looking at life, but I was there. I was tired of trusting other people, I was tired of feeling like I would have to explain myself, and I was tired of not being heard. So I gathered myself up into my own little world and chose to reach out only when it was the last thing I could do.

Instead of doing better, I got more cynical, and tired of how life was going. It was a lonely place to be. I could be surrounded by people but feel like the only one in the room. 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 talks about us all being one body, and with that we each have specific jobs we do. Just as an eye doesn’t say “because I am not an ear, I don’t belong to the body” we all were made for a reason. We were and are made to be in community with each other. This goes for our home life, our work life and even our spiritual life. We were not made to do this life alone. It’s when we try and do it alone that we fail and faulter in what we do.

A very wise friend of mine convicted me the other day. She had noticed that I was going down the path of “my way or the highway” and she loved me enough to bring it to my attention. She didn’t do it to make me feel guilty but more for me to step back and re-evaluate my path. Because she took the time, and care enough I realized that I was not a very nice person to be around. My co-workers were feeling it, my family had to hear me complain and vent more than I had before, and I was not feeling the joy that usually brought me peace and contentment. I admit there was and is still some guilt from how my attitude played out on the people around me, but the only thing I can do for that is to ask for forgiveness and work to stay away from that path in the future. What brought me there in the first place was pride. I was going to do life my way, and I proceeded to shut my community out.

Community can be one person, or many. It’s a place to be held accountable, but also a place to feel safe. It’s a place to lift each other up and support each other. Not one of us is better than someone else. When we realize this and move to support each other rather than tear down, even in difficulties we can work like a well oiled machine. As I write this I know there are people I need to reach out to. If I am to use the faith I have I know that I need to act and not just speak love and joy. It’s an amazing thing, when people put aside their differences and come together.

As I think about the last few days, it’s crazy to think that had I just reached out instead of saying I was too busy, I would have known that a friend was contemplating a new life choice, that another friend had a scary health issue come up again, that a family member just wasn’t feeling her best because of stress. More often than not we are bombarded with self care posts, and ads and articles. There is a time and place for self care, don’t get me wrong, but usually you will find that strength comes in knowing your community is there for you and you are there for them. With strength comes joy, and so as I write this I have been invited to a game night with some gals from church and my girls want to come with me. I have texted a friend to invite her out to dinner. I have a prayer list for those near and dear that have concerns laying on their hearts. This is community, this is self care, just as much as doing the solitary activity can bring joy so can being active in the lives around you. Until next time:

Surround yourself with relentless humans. People who plan in decades, but live in moments. Train like savages, but create like artists. Obsess in work, relax in life. People who know this is finite, and choose to play infinite games. Find people going up mountains. Climb together

Zach Pogrob
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Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

Love Your Neighbor

Today my daughter and I get to teach Sunday School. We are put into a room with 4-5yr old kids who have no cares in the world. They are just happy to come in and play, learn about Jesus and eat snacks. It is so fun to watch them interact with each other. Most of them know each other from church, but there are a few new kiddos that come and are welcomed into the play circles enthusiastically. Lego forts are build, pretend meals are made and play animals are cared for. There are are few kids that have a hard time being away from their parents but usually forget about their worries when our song leader comes in to sing his songs.

Today we get to learn about “The Good Samaritan” if you haven’t read this story it’s found in Luke 10:25-37. The basis of the story is to love your neighbor as yourself. What a concept to teach such young kids. We were not born to love others first, but rather to love ourselves and then once we are good, then we can look to what others need. So as I prepped, I found an object lesson that was perfect since it involved candy. Now if you read through the paragraph above you can see that the kids in my classroom have a pretty good grasp on loving their neighbors, but it’s still a lesson worthy of teaching. The kids all sat in a circle on the carpet. Each one of them got to have one piece of candy. This is torture of course for a kid but they did well. Then they got to tell me how yummy that candy tasted. The next step was to give them a piece of ice. They had to keep it in their mouths for as long as they could stand it, once they spit it out they were immediately given another piece of candy. They then told me how that piece of candy tasted. Obviously they wouldn’t have been able to taste that piece because their tongues were numb from the ice. This is how it is when we don’t love our neighbors as ourselves.

As stated, before the kids got the ice they were given a piece of candy. All of them told me how yummy it was and actually asked for more, but a lesson needed to be taught about loving others, so I explained that just like the candy tasting good, that’s how we feel when we help others. We feel good, we have a better outlook on life. We want to do it more because the joy we see in the eyes of those we helped is the joy that Jesus wants us to feel and share. The candy that was given to the kids after the ice didn’t taste like anything. This is what it’s like when we are selfish and only think of ourselves. Our lives are numb, and joy is hard to find. Sometimes it takes work to love and help others, but even with the sacrifice, it’s better than to not sacrifice at all.

The kids grasped this concept better than I had thought they would, probably because in it’s simplest form it is easy. As we get older and the world teaches us that it’s not as easy to trust as it should be, we get cynical in our outlooks. We even start to think mean thoughts about ourselves. Here’s some things to try: volunteer to help at a shelter, buy some extra food at the store and find someone who needs some. Talk with a pastor about where there is a need and fill the need. Bake cookies for your neighbor. In our world looking past ourselves, is what gets us in a place of compassion and joy. My daughter and I volunteered to teach, not because we love getting up early on a Sunday, but because we love to see the kids, and we get to act like kids as well. There is joy in that. Jesus said “let the little children come to me”. When we have childlike faith it is easier to run to Him and see what He has to offer us. What we take from His love, is what we should share with others, it’s as simple as that. Until next time:

Being negative only makes a journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.

Joyce Meyer
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Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

Pondering Life’s Wonders

Today, seventeen years ago my daughter made me a momma. It is so hard to believe that I have someone that old that is my child, but I would not want to wake up from this dream if I had to. Now don’t get me wrong she is a typical teenager in which she is the perfect button pusher but at the same time her heart is made of gold. So today we celebrate her with cake, presents and kicking her out of the house to shop all day (we tried to do the party thing but she declined). So due to the fact that she is out of the house, and the other two kids decided to have outside engagements it has left me to my lonesome to ponder life’s wonders.

First on my list, have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a cat? Ok, so I was talking to my brother with a video chat when I realized I had never actually been shown his house. So while he was giving me the “tour” his two cats showed up. One of them quickly disappeared (probably had too much attention placed on it with the video), while the other one decided to settle in on the couch. They had been outside probably plotting someone’s demise when they saw that the back door had been opened. Luckily my brother was ready and able to feed them as soon as they put their pretty little feet on the kitchen floor. We started talking about them of course which made me start thinking about what it would be to be a cat. Basically you get loved on, on your terms, if someone doesn’t feed you right away you can go lay on their heads or go hunt for yourself. You rule everything! My middle child won’t even get up to go to the bathroom if her cat is laying on her, she will hold it until her eyeballs turn yellow. This then made me think about the fact that teenagers are just cats. The description fits them perfectly.

The other thing that got my brain to start wandering is how on earth does a single action have so much power over the outcome of a moment? I had just gotten back from a trip that had been longer than I first expected. When I got back to work, my dear friend came up to me and gave me a hug. With that single gesture my outlook for the rest of the day was brighter. I have talked about this friend before and how she is the perfecter of hugs. Like she should teach a class on them she is so good. A hug from her can make the worries for the moment just fade away. On top of being a world class hugger, she is a prayer warrior. She will come at a situation and think through it with prayer on her mind. It’s amazing!

Lastly on this special day, I thought about all the ways in which I have been blessed to be a momma. I have three wonderful kids. They are all button pushers but have big hearts. We have fun together, learn together, roll our eyes and my husbands bad dad jokes together, and even work together. I wish I could give them more hugs but my two oldest have informed me they have grown out of that stage, so my youngest is stuck taking the brunt of the hug monster. The more I am around them, the more I realize they have more cat-like characteristics than I ever thought possible. I have learned that patience really is a virtue, that being tough is sometimes really hard, and that picking my battles is so very important. I am a better person because of my kids, and I have also learned what it is that I will stand for. I pray hard for them, and force myself to stand back and let them learn. So as my oldest spends her birthday money on so many, many books and other nick knacks, I will be here thinking of how I will make her cake, and how I can manage to get more hugs in. Until next time:

She is beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines.

She is beautiful for the way she thinks.

She is beautiful for the sparkle in her eyes when she talks about something she loves. She is beautiful for her ability to make other people smile. Even when she is sad.

No, she isn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She is beautiful deep down in her soul.

F. Scott Fitzgerald
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img_0105

Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

What We Hide Behind

How are you doing today? “Good, how are you?” Hey, is there something I can help you with, so you can get out of here quicker? “No, but thank you”. She seems to always be so happy and cheerful. He is always so helpful. It’s fine, everything is fine.

There are so many statements that can be said that we use to hide what we are truly going through. Sometimes it feels easier to to do this, so that explanations don’t have to be said, but what it really does is alienate us from friends and family that could be a supportive cornerstone in our lives.

To say that we need help, calls us to step out from behind the shields that we have put up. It calls us to be humble. When we have tunnel vision on our problems we put them on a platform that makes them bigger than life. This is what happened recently with me. I made the problems that I was facing become bigger than the support I could have gotten.

Recently as I was going through a hard time and I had decided that I would keep it to myself. In my wisdom I thought I was doing the right thing since I didn’t want to put the hardships on anyone else. I felt I could be my own savior and that I could endure the issues on my own. I was in the state of mind that no one else could or would want to help me get through what I had going, but what I realized quickly (but not quickly enough) was that I needed to be humble and reach out.

We were created to be live in a community. We were made to support each other. Christ calls us to serve, to be humble, to help carry each other’s load. We are called to be bold in helping others and not hide behind the issues and problems that we are having. When we reach out and serve it can help us get out from behind the masks we put on.

When my oldest daughter was in jr. high she did a talk to her youth group about using disguises to seem normal, to help get through life. What most people in her youth group didn’t know was that at that time she was really struggling with anxieties and self worth. She hid her problems well. What she concluded her lesson with was that when we do this we are deceivers. The problem with being a deceiver is that you will be deceived later, by someone else who may hiding things well. There is no need to “fake it till you make it”. When we can be real with each other we are being who God made us to be. When we choose to not allow our issues to own us our attitudes will change. We can see our identities change. We can look at the world in a different light and see ourselves in that same light.

As a whole we will always have problems and issues that we face. When we ask for help, or let people in on our lives, we are allowing ourselves to be open. The friends and family won’t necessarily fix our situations but they can help us carry the load. This is one of the many times in which being humble is a strength and gives us power to be who we are. So let’s get out of the tunnel vision we are in, open our eyes to the circles we are a part of and share our joys and our weaknesses with those that want to support and help us. Until next time:

Being humble means recognizing that we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much of a difference we can make in the lives of others.

G.Hinckley
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img_0105

Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

Waiting Just A Little While Longer

I sit here and I wait. I am waiting for the sun to rise, and I wait for the caffeine to kick in. I know that I will go back to reality soon, the job, my family, my dogs and my cat. I came to where I am so that I could wait. In the process of this waiting I have found that even in waiting we all do it so differently.

My parent’s house is not on the large size, but the sounds that come with it are. The sounds range from a door closing to family members talking in the kitchen. If you thought you would sleep in, that will not happen in this house. Dogs happen in this house too. I think they are some of my favorite ways to pass the time when waiting. They have no idea why their house went from calm and quiet to having three extra people as well as a puppy descend on them, and they do not care (except for when poor Thor has to contend with the puppy, by playing just as hard). Dogs make it so easy to forget for a moment that things are going on around you. I dare you to not smile when they are all playing and running and fighting over a stuffed monkey.

In the mist of waiting, processing happens. We went out to dinner one night with family, and while the food was great the company was better. It was hilarious, and eye opening. The overall theme was that we need to have fun together, we need to be there for each other and most importantly we need to see the importance of not holding onto what has happened in the past, but own it and move forward from it. Waiting, especially when away from home makes you realize how much you miss home. I love my bed, that is what I miss. I miss my kids, my hubby , my dogs and of course the cat. I know that life is going on without me right now and that really makes me humble, knowing that in the big scheme of things, life will go on. Maybe this trip will help me to see that my “britches could have gotten too big for me”. Sometimes that is needed too.

As I sit and write and ponder, I am listening again to my family figure out the current “problem” that needs to be fixed. I know who will be the fixer, who will be the worrier, who will be the one who is receiving the solution, and who will be the ones that will help move the process along. It’s really a relief and a joy that we come together and things happen. All along my parent’s dog Thor lays on the floor silently judging me for not sitting on the floor playing with him. Oddly enough there is joy in that too. So what does all this pondering, and processing bring me to?

I miss my family, that is true, but I also got to be with my extended family as we celebrate a life that was truly joyful. If I could think of an example of joy to emulate it would be what my family has. We pull together when we need to, we fight for each other and we are loyal. We accept the differences we have and support the quirks in between. We navigate the trials of life as well as the playfulness of the dogs. We willingly stuff ourselves into a home meant for two so that we can enjoy the company of many. Waiting is what brought us together. We didn’t have to wait long, God wanted His angel sooner than we wanted to give her up, but in her departure she brought us all together. I will work on expanding my joy more, with the help of a legacy of joy to look up to. Life is short, and it has a tendency to not be easy, but joy and a baseline of humbleness can help in navigating through it. Until next time:

When you see me in your dreams, I’m really there. When you see me in the distance, that’s me. When you sense and feel me around the house, I’m there. I have not left you, I will always be by your side and in your heart.

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Rae’s New Shine Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back. $12.00

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Life Giving Joy

To be a part of a family means there are times when love causes you be a part of situations that can reek havoc on your emotions. Life teaches us that we will go through ups and downs, joys and sorrows. It was through a time of sorrow that joy abounded. The family was called together for a time when an angel was waiting to be called home. In this time we came in full force or as my brother said we “swarmed in like a hoard of locus” in which I corrected him and changed it to a “plethora of beautiful butterflies” in which there was a slight eye roll. The call came and we answered. In this we allowed our hearts to come back “home”. So how is the joy found in the sorrow of the moment? As we visited around the table we talked about how to support each other, and came up with laughter organically.

Laughter really touches the soul and brings forth joy. I really didn’t know how much I needed family time until I came home to my parents house. I also didn’t know that a church service to awaken my soul again. Did I mention the dogs? Ok I know that I have said over and over again that I work with animals. I have gone a week plus without having a dog or a cat close by, and boy did it take it’s toll. I came into my parent’s house and was immediately confronted with the biggest, happiest, dogs. A little while later after I had forced these two dogs to get snuggled my sister came along with her puppy. The introductions were a little off in the sense that poor little Clem had two very big dogs rush her without warning, but it was all in curiosity and slobber, which she has since recovered and is showing them whose boss. Joy came in the form of memories shared in the living room. It also came from making plans, working on a ridiculously hard puzzle and enjoying a peach crunch with ice cream.

Joy also comes in knowing that you are supported by your immediate family and work family. Being away from the people you see on a daily basis is a hard thing to do, but as the pastor taught on Sunday it’s about finding ways to worship through life. We are together because of a hard situation, we are worshipping the creator because we know through good and bad He is in control. Joy isn’t always about being happy. It’s about knowing who is in control and allowing that to wash over you. I would love to have hard times never come into my life, but they are put there so that I can grow and learn and maybe use the experience to help someone else. I love that through the joy that my family member had and pushed into our lives we get to celebrate her for who she is. My joy comes from my faith, even when it’s tested. It comes from family, extended, immediate and work all included. My joy comes from a kind and compassionate pastor who sees me as important and hugs me like I will always be a part of his family. My joy comes from crying, from daydreaming and from enjoying the people and pets around me.

Life will go back to “normal” next week. We will all head back to our designated parts of the states. We will resume our lives, but we will do so with the knowledge that once again we grew. Our hearts grew a bit bigger, and hopefully the walls that we keep though big or small didn’t grow at all. We will go back to the troubles we left for a short time, but hopefully we will have a better perspective on them. We will even have new places that the dog hair found itself in, but this is all a part of life giving joy. Until next time:

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people an the affection of children; To ear the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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img_0105

Rae’s New Shine Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

It’s Who We Are

One thing I learned right off the bat is the more you think you know about a certain topic, you really don’t know that much. What I also learned is that if you are willing to admit this and are open to acquire more knowledge people are willing to offer up that knowledge to you. It takes a great big leap of humbleness to get to that place of admitting your “downfall” but it can be full of enlightenment. I went to a conference recently in which I shared a house with seven women. We are all at different walks of life, and we have opinions that sometimes match, and sometimes not, and due to this fact the conversations can get interesting. This is also the time, if you are good at this, in which staying quiet and just listening to what is said around you can help you to see the what it is that make people tick.

This also brings up to topic of people watching. It is so interesting to watch people as they walk by. What are they thinking? Where are they going? What causes them to have the expression they have on their face? Are they good people? When you are at this type of conference you hope that the people that are here with you are also good people only for the fact that they have jobs that require them to advocate for the pets that they care for. While I was sitting waiting for my next class to start, I had the privilege to sit with a friend who I hadn’t had the chance to talk to for a long time. In so many ways she was the same sweet person, the change that I noticed the most was the confidence she had in herself. When I first met her she was just starting out in the vet medical world and didn’t know much, just like me. Now we both have had kids, have been in the field for years, have had some of the same experiences with much different outcomes, and we have matured and grown through the life stages.

Time and experiences will really make you see what kind of person you are. I once said to someone that I feel as though I really am not a nice person because I tend to get frustrated a lot when things are done the right way. After I said that I realized that I was letting the small things get to me. That I wasn’t allowing people to be people, that I wasn’t taking into consideration that they may just be having a bad day. Then I realized further that I get frustrated at myself a lot too because I don’t give myself slack. People walk through life either trying to survive it, or thrive through it. As I learned more about the women I share the house with, and the friend I finally got to visit with, I realized that there was surviving with a bunch of thriving thrown on top. People will project to the world what they want the world to see, thus the interest in people watching, but when you get down to the heart of it’s about the why of life, and putting the importance on that. Until next time:

Caterpillars have to dissolve into a disgusting pile of goo to become butterflies.

So if you’re a mess wrapped up in blankets right now, keep going

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Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

Be Still, Be Like a Child

This couldn’t be happening, I had already seen how destructive this way of thinking was to the people around me. I was starting to see it seep into my own life, and knew if I wasn’t careful, the thoughts would overtake me like it had in the past. It was so easy to let it happen, especially when the effects didn’t seem too bad. But deep down I knew that little by little cracks would happen in the foundation I had worked so hard to reinforce.

Another Saturday in the books, scrolling and watching reels and looking at what people posted instead of being productive and present with the family. It is so easy to pick up the phone and hit the app that will make you forget that you have things to do. The goal was to start unplugging more and finding ways in which creativity will blossom, and so with a new day the goal is set again. Negative thoughts help make way for excuses to be made when positive ideas can be accomplished. So the choice needs to be made to squash the negative and work towards the positive.

Enter the UNO card game. Teenagers can be a fickle group, one minute they are in their rooms for hours on in, in a zombie-like trance, the next minute they get into the game closet and pull out the UNO cards to play with whoever is available. Today it was my two teenage daughters. My middle child is usually the zombie in the room while my eldest is the zombie on the couch. With each card that is played trash talk is said and laughter ensues. It’s music to my ears, loud music but music non the less. They are being present and having fun. There are no negative thoughts happening. Every so often they look back at where I have camped out to see if there is a reaction to a comment made. What they don’t see is that my heart is swelling with joy at the fact that they are having fun.

Have you ever noticed that when an adult let’s go of the adult life for a little bit and acts and plays like a child they tend to have so much fun? Being an adult is hard, so when the chance arises to be childlike it is liberating. Problems can be forgotten, and critical thoughts vanquished. The last few Sundays my eldest daughter and I got to teach Sunday school. This weeks lesson was about how Jesus calmed the storm. So of course we found a blue blanket and had the kids hold onto the edges of it and when they were told to flop it up and down like a storm they had so much fun doing it. When “Be Still!” was yelled out they had to stop flopping. We then let one kid at a time sit under the blanket so that they could yell “Be Still!” whenever they wanted. The craft was then to make waves out of streamers so that they could run around waving the streamers and would have to freeze when “Be Still!” was yelled. I didn’t once think about work, outside life, or troubles. I was able to act like a kid for an hour plus. It’s no wonder that Jesus said “let the little children come to me” in the simplest form kids have the greatest of faiths and don’t have a care in the world. They trust wholeheartedly and love easily. This is how the foundation of my life is reinforced, to try and love and have joy like a child. When critical thoughts, cynical acts and negative emotions come streaming in, I have to remember in this storm Christ is saying “Be Still”, if I can pay attention to his words then all will be quiet and joy flows. Until next time:

Please don’t ever get tired of being a good person with a good heart. I know it sucks being taken advantage of and feeling like it’s better to be cold hearted sometimes. But people like you are what give this world hope.

Dhar Mann

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raes-new-shine

Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

The Next Few Steps

One foot in front of the other, really that’s all it would take.  But there was more to it, there would be getting into the car, and actually turning it on so that she could get to the destination she was aiming for.  Why was this so difficult she thought?  It is literally talking to someone and asking them a favor.  It wasn’t like she was asking them for their first born child.  But still she sat.  She had made it to her car, but then sat there convincing herself that she could drive where she needed to go.  Then she had an idea, since she wasn’t going any where at the moment why not look up the websites for the businesses she had to visit.  Maybe if she knew more about the owners and what the businesses actually sold it would make this process easier.   It didn’t take long for her to realize that she was stalling, so she started the engine and drove to the park that she planned to park at.  Both stores were within walking distance of each other so that would give her a chance to walk and pray.  The butterflies in her stomach were fluttering wildly, but she knew that if she wanted to move forward the next few steps had to happen.

Shortly after she had finally finished her tasks, she realized that life had gone on.  She had the relief in knowing she had accomplished what she set out to do.  She also realized she had to be ok if the people she talked to were not interested.  Still, she called her husband and let him know how everything went.  She didn’t realize it at the time but when he said how proud he was of her, she melted.  She needed to hear those words.  Needed to know that she had someone rooting for her.  With those simple words the rest of her day felt lighter. 

Challenges are put in front of us all of the time.  Most of us will take them head on and celebrate when they are done.  What is missed though?  When we get in this frame of mind good can be missed.  What if what you created is being enjoyed but you miss out because you are so focused on the fact that you needed to get “it out there” for people to enjoy it.  What if what you created brought you joy, but while sharing it with others you forgot that it brought you joy in the first place.  My sister when she was going to college to get her Graphics Design degree she had taken a picture I had of my oldest daughter and had used it as part of a project.  She had basically taken the way the picture looked from the camera and had made it better through her “filters” and creativity.  I still love to look at the picture she created.  I am sure during the time she was in the class, she didn’t see it as something someone else would enjoy later on, since at the time she was trying to get a good grade, but she ended up accomplishing that goal.

Getting caught up in the moment makes it hard to see the joy and creativity that is all around.  We live in a big beautiful world that God created for us, and we are too busy to notice it.  To add to that God made us to have gifts and we should use those gifts to bring glory to God.  Why have a talented artist put her paintings in the basement?  Why have an author not share her stories?  Why would someone that is good with numbers and math not help a business run better?  Fear can play a role but we were also taught that there is no fear in love.  God loves us, he gave us the talents and gifts we have so that we can share them with the world.  When we allow fear to overtake us we don’t take the next steps, we hide our first, second and third editions, we make excuses as to why we can’t do something now.  Believing in the gifts God has given you isn’t easy, but is there really anything in this world that is?  Until next time:

Sometimes, before a thing can go right, it has to go wrong. Maybe many times. If it’s important to you, keep doing it. And don’t be so hard on yourself! You’re doing better than you think

Nanea Hoffman
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Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

Goal, Set, Gratitude!

Goal, set, gratitude! A few months ago I was talking with my oldest daughter. I told her I was thinking about writing a children’s book based on a blog post I had written (What’s Your Worth). In my mind it was going to be something that would help kids know that they have a special shine all their own, they just have to bring it out by believing in themselves. The goal was set, I had given myself until the end of the year to get it written, published and in a bookstore in town. This really was a lofty goal since I am a full time vet tech and momma of three. My free time is dictated by the amount of time I want to give to my sanity. The goal was set and my daughter was told, so there was no room for failure. In August of this year I finished my book and got it out to a company that would print it and get it on order lists for places like Barnes and Noble and Amazon to sell it. I had done it! Mostly….I wanted to get it into the local area since I knew the chances of people actually seeing it on big websites was slim.

Enter in a friend of mine that owns the local bookstore. This bookstore is the cutest place, she has hidden corners in which you can hide away to read, she has used and new books, she even has a little coffee shop so that you can stay caffeinated while enjoying the company of a good book. It was the perfect place to see if I could make something of my book. All I needed to do was work up the courage to ask her. She made this so much easier one day when she texted me saying “she did this thing”. Of course I was curious so I texted back “do tell…..”. She said she went out and got a puppy, and so after I congratulated her and set her up with the initial vet appointments, I told her that I “did a thing”. I let her know that I had written a kids book and asked if she would be willing to look it over and have it be in her store. That was so nerve wracking, it felt like I was sending my own flesh and blood child out into the world and hoping for the best. Without hesitation though she said absolutely. She even went further and said a “story time” should be set up so that I could read my book to kids in her store. I was so excited, but terrified. What if no one liked my book? What if no kids showed up to the story time?

Courage helps you do the things that seem impossible to do. I am not a natural writer, but I write a blog and I published a book. I doubt myself all of the time, and there are many days in which other people look better, seem to have their acts together, and seem to have more talent in their pinky finger than I do. If I let myself dwell on those thoughts than I would never try anything new. The story time was scheduled, I made sure the bookstore had my books to sell, I even had a very talented friend of mine make a doll based on the main character “Rae”. When I showed up on the day I was to read my book, I was nervous, but I also knew that I could do it. I was and still am so very grateful to my friend for giving me the opportunity to share my book. I had three kids show up. I read my book to those three kids. Each one got to have a copy of my book and a doll to go with it. A few days after, I received an email from a bookstore in the next town over that agreed to have my book on consignment at their store. These are small victories. Each day I need to remember the lesson that “Rae” had to learn and re-learn it myself. When we focus too much on what other people can do we miss out on the talents that we have ourselves. Do I want to write another book, yes? Do I want my current book “Rae’s New Shine” to get into more kid’s hands, yes! What I won’t do is set my worth on the success of what I do. In the end I am grateful for the challenges I take on and the lessons I learn. Fear, and anxieties won’t hold me back, and hopefully they don’t hold others back. Until next time:

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Rae’s New Shine Children’s Book

One day Rae woke up and felt different. When she looked at the people around her they seemed to “shine brighter” than she did. When she finally prayed about it and asked her mom for help, she realized she didn’t know her own worth. She didn’t believe in herself and felt dim compared to others. Once she started to see she was talented and worthy her shine came back.

$12.00

“my child, you don’t know your worth and that is why you are not shining as bright as you could be”-Rae’s mom (excerpt from Rae’s New Shine, by Heather Bartlett)

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The Power of Sisters

This weekend I had the joy of going to a retreat that was set in the woods.  I was surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation.  I also got the opportunity to sleep in a cabin with bunk beds that were meant for a child with bones made of rubber.  I try and joke but seriously, think boards with cushions about as soft as a board.  To be fair I didn’t go to the retreat to sleep, but to have fellowship with the ladies of the church I attend.  I was not disappointed. 

It’s amazing what can happen when you get a group of ladies together.  The different personalities shine through.  As I sat down to write this we had just gotten done with worship and a time of teaching.  The gal that spoke to us had such an amazing story to tell.  She spoke with conviction but humbleness,  knowing that she was not perfect but that with her story she could help someone make it through theirs.  “Free time” was scheduled for afterwards.  Some of the ladies started craft projects but most found other ladies and started playing games.  Let me tell you, you haven’t been to a woman’s retreat (at least at this church) without hearing laughter and yelling due to a game.  It is hilarious.  Women that are normally quiet turn loud and competitive with bunko.  Momma’s that have young kids are out having actual conversations with other ladies.  Workaholics can relax and try something new.  Teenage daughters spend time with their mommas.  Excessive food is eaten, and hikes are taken. 

The main topic this weekend was to be anchored in what you believe in.  We as women love to be in control.  If there isn’t something to control, we will make up something to control.  We run our households, we have jobs, we have kids and husbands, and for most of us we push ourselves without the thought of rest.  When a shelf is hung without the nail being secured in a stud, it can’t hold much weight and can fall.  When a ship doesn’t drop it’s anchor at the right time, it is not secure.  When we go about this world on our own we will fail.  When women get together to learn and grow in Christ, they also get together to learn and grow with each other.  This retreat taught me that that I could have reached out sooner to a gal who is going through some of the same struggles I am going through.  I learned that hard work, prayer and time can make miracles happen.  I learned that we as humans must own up to our responsibilities, and then learn and grow from them.   I also learned that if you tell an older “more mature” lady that they shouldn’t move tables without help, it only makes them want to do it more. 

We often hear that the female gender can be mean and nasty to other females, and there are times when I have seen that happen.  What I have seen more than that though, is support and love.  When push comes to shove, we support each other.  New mommas get advice from more seasoned mommas.  Grandma’s help raise grandkids.  Aunts become way cooler than moms, especially when the yellow Volkswagen bug comes out.  When someone gets hurt, support and care come out of the woodworks.  My daughter and I got to spend time together.  When I got bad news this morning,  I thought I could hide the pain I felt, but even with that, a gal I had gotten to know pulled me aside and asked if I was ok.  Women are amazing creatures, when they become “sisters” with other women, they become powerful creatures.  A force to be reckoned with, and one to be relied on.  Until next time:

You’ve survived too many storms to be bothered by raindrops

Unknown

Narrative

I love to hear people’s stories. Through their experiences, trials and joys they became the people they are. When I was younger I would ask my grandma to tell me stories, in which I would learn about her life as a child and then what it was like to be married with five kids. I loved to visit with her and looking back I wish I would have had the forethought to write down the experiences she went through. Her narrative was mostly about simpler times, but she never made them sound like they were hard times. Throughout her life I knew she didn’t always have it easy but that never stopped her from loving us grandkids, supporting us and making sure when people came to visit they were well fed. She was a rock in our family.

As an adult, married with kids, I wonder what is seen as my narrative. Do I make the way my life is seem harder than what it is so that people will want to listen to me? Do I brush things off too easily even if I may be struggling with something that someone is willing to help me with? Do I hold back on my excitement of things because I don’t want to make a spectacle out of myself? I want my narrative to be strong and full of love and joy, not that there won’t be hard times but I want strength and perseverance to shine through. A gal I was talking to once was telling me of all the things she wanted to do but she was going to wait to do them until her kids were older. At first I thought “how sad, why wait?” but then it dawned on me that this is what her narrative is. Her current story has her kids as the center point. She finds joy in that, she is strong in that, when that shifts and she becomes more of the center then she can do the things her heart desires. Another person I talked to had some major trauma in her younger years that made her grow up way too soon. She had a lot to work through, but what she gained from the events that happened is that they would not define her. She made mistakes, she let people down but she also lifted people up and encouraged people to move forward, to take back their lives and be who they want to be.

This week I am doing something that is a little bit scary for me to do. It may not seem like much, but I am reading a book to a group of kids. This isn’t just any book, it’s a book I wrote about above all things believing in yourself. I may show up and have one kid there, or I may show up and have twenty. You may be thinking: “how hard could this be?” and I would be thinking the same thing if it were someone else, but it’s me. I am putting my heart out on the line, hoping that the kids will like the story. What I am also doing is showing my own kids that they need to take risks, try something new and have fun along the way. I am also growing and learning that taking risks and having goals is living. I have days in which I get home from work and think my co-workers must think I am the meanest person ever, my kids don’t want to listen to what I have to say and my hubby swears I moved things to test his patience. It’s on these days in which I have to chose to change the narrative. I have to find the joy, find the good, and realize that when I think these negative thoughts majority of the time they are not true (except of course when I try and test my hubby’s sanity). What’s your narrative? Is it laced with positivity or negativity? Do you live your life in a way that people want to sit and hear your stories? Until next time:

You don’t need to rearrange the stars or move mountains to be enough. You don’t need to have your entire life in order, or be perfect in any way. You just need to be able to offer love, and be willing to receive it in return, because that’s all anyone ever needed anyway.

Dane Thomas

Allow Spectacular

This week I bought a notebook. This notebook is small but I am hoping that it will be mighty. Over the last couple of months the ability for me to notice the good and look past the bad had been weakened. Not that I don’t have a lot of good going on in my life, but I wasn’t keeping my thoughts in check and so the negative that was “in the area” was seeping into the processes of my brain. I was allowing myself to focus on what was aggravating me and causing me to be annoyed. Since I had been in a place like this before I knew I needed to do something and do it quick. So the purchase of this notebook was the first step in my little plan. Each day I would make sure this notebook was with me and whenever something good happened, I would write it down. It took a day to remember that I needed to do this assignment, I needed to see it as a mandatory verses a “if I have time” type activity. The following is some of the highlights of the list:

  • A dear friend of mine had been thinking about some of the things I had been struggling about. She came to me and asked me a very important question. She asked if I was praying for the person/people that had been causing me stress.
  • Another dear friend noticed that my fellow co-workers and I seemed to be always on the go and decided that she would feed us. She not only brought yummy chocolate cookies but brought meats, cheeses and crackers so that we had something nutritional as well.
  • Every night my hubby has a hot dinner ready by the time I get home
  • When I work late, I don’t have to worry about what is going on at home because my hubby has it all under control
  • I have teens that are girls, from what I am told most teenage girls are not into talking to their parents. Mine talk to me and let me know about their day. They are excited to share what they are doing.
  • My son hugs me every morning and says ” I love you” and still lets me pray with him and hug him before he goes to bed.
  • I get to help animals, and pet horses and goats when I visit people at their homes.
  • Have you ever smelled laundry that has been hung on the line to dry. Pure heaven, almost as good as the smell of homemade brownies.
  • Zucchini brownies, I don’t need to say anything more.
  • It is still summer outside, it is not cold, and the temperature is still above 70 degrees. This is perfect weather.
  • There was a fire recently that was close by, there were structures that burned, but no one lost their lives and as far as I know that goes for animals too.
  • Have you ever really looked into the “face” of a sunflower?

These are some of the items that needed to be written down. Some were significant while others were just observations. There is a story that has been passed around for some time now that talks about perspective. Here’s the story:

There is a story they tell of two dogs.

Both at separate times walk into the same room.

One comes out wagging his tail while the other comes out growling.

A women watching this goes into the room to see what could possibly make one dog so happy and the other so mad.

To her surprise she finds a room filled with mirrors.

The happy dog found a thousand happy dogs looking back at him while the angry dog saw only angry dogs growling back at him.

What you see in the world around you is a reflection on who you are.

Unknown

There is so much good in the world, but we overlook it because we get hyper-focused on the bad that is happening. We miss the field of sunflowers because there is mudpuddle in our path. We don’t take the adventure because there is too much work in getting to the path. We let our fears dictate how we live. We become like the angry dog in the story instead of finding the joy and the spectacular that has always been. Do you need a notebook? Do you need the simple assignment of looking for the good? Until next time:

I want to be like a sunflower. So even on the darkest days I will stand tall and find the light.

Joyful Change

The Act of Living

Every morning my dog Charlie gets let out of her kennel. She finds the nearest toy, grabs it and jumps on the bed to show us what she has. She has this fancy wiggle that includes a prance that practically folds her in half while she works to not step on the rope part of her toy. She is so happy to see whatever human crosses her path first. She doesn’t care that she probably has to pee. She doesn’t care that she needs to be careful to not step on her brother Jorj who is trying to sleep for just a little longer. She just knows that her day has started and she has a toy. Her energy is like this most of the day, especially when her humans are home.

My eldest and middle daughters love to get her riled up. Charlie has chosen my oldest as the one she must “protect” so the girls use this to their advantage when they play. They pretend to hit each other and here comes Charlie to the rescue. The problem is, is that Charlie is a 50 pound scaredy cat. On that note why are animals that are scared called scaredy cats. Most cats I know will stand their ground and have little daggers attached to their feet, but I digress. Charlie can be in a deep sleep, and be there to “protect” in 2.5 seconds, but have me walk through the door with scrubs on and she runs to hide in the farthest room in the house. In her own special way Charlie has perfected the act of living. To be honest I think I should take lessons from her.

Every day we get to wake up and climb out of bed. We get to eat our breakfast and for most of us head to work, and for others they stay home to work or be with the kids. There are certain things we need to do to make sure our basic needs are met, but apart from these things we can chose what to do with our free time. A couple of days ago I was admiring the deck that a client had. She had this huge deck that had pots and pots of flowers that were lined up around the perimeter. If you were able to take your eyes off the flowers you would see that the view she had off the deck was just as beautiful. When I mentioned that she probably has a hard time leaving her house with all this beauty around her, she gave me this look, that made me think it was easier than what I thought it would be. She agreed it was beautiful but there was a lot of work that was put into at least the beauty that I was seeing near the house.

The act of living requires work. We have to put work into what we do daily. If we were able to be like my dog Charlie life would be simple but it wouldn’t necessarily be easy. For a dog who is a pet, they depend on their people for their basic needs, but they have to trust that when we leave them every day that we will come back. We protect them as much as they would protect us. These are not easy things to ask of our pets that don’t even understand most of the words we say to them. The act of living requires us to make decisions sometimes that are hard. The client I visited could have chosen fake flowers to put in the pots and would have had less work. Instead she put the time and effort in to create a space that she and her husband, friends and family can all enjoy. The act of living means turning off things so that we can turn on our imaginations.

On any given day I can find one if not all four of my family members on some sort of electronic device. There is Facebook, Tiktok, Instagram and more that will waste away so much of their lives it’s really quite sad to think about. I am not immune to this problem either. There are nights in which I have watched so many little videos I am sure I can make a cake while riding a horse through Disneyland. The internet has taken over the world, and information can be obtained about almost anything and everything if you just look. When the decision is made to turn off the devices though, my eldest daughter will draw beautiful pictures. My middle child will paint and find recipes to try out. My youngest will play. He will get board games out, and more often than not get the dogs outside. My hubby will tinker with his motorcycle, take it out for rides and has been known to build decks, playhouses and furniture with his own plans. When I get off my device, I color with crayons, write books, get random thoughts put into my blog and try my hand at gardening. There is joy in the act of living. Even if it’s simple, even if it’s not always easy. The joy is found when the act is acted upon. Until next time:

Your diet is not only what you eat. It is what you watch, what you listen to, what your read, the people you hang around……be mindful of the things you put into your body emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

Unknown

Mandatory Time Out

In the blink of an eye the trajectory of where you life is going can be misaligned. If you have kids you know exactly what I mean. There is nothing calm or collected when it comes to life. On the surface it can look calm but usually there is something that causes life to not be collected.

At work currently we are in the process of training up some newer people. They are asked to do certain tasks that when being watched can be stressful at best. When said tasks are not done in the manner in which they should be done and have to be repeated it’s hard on the trainee as well as the trainer. Most of the time people are harder on themselves than another person can be. What the trainee may not see is that the trainer is just as hard on themselves. We tear ourselves down so much for making a mistake or not being “perfect” in something we have done for years. We look at the negative first and then wonder why we can’t find the positive that is all around. It’s when the training moments start to get stressful that the person getting trained is given a “time out”. Instead of a nose in the corner, it’s a gentle voice that says “breathe, you will get this”. It’s getting out of the zone of trainer and realizing they are new at the skill and it will take time for them to be comfortable. They have to know they can trust you to be vulnerable enough to say “I don’t get it, or why am I not doing this the way is should be done?”

I have a teen who is learning to drive. She started out slow in the process due to the anxieties she had. We worked at overcoming those fears by starting slow and worked up to where she is now. She has a pattern that has been noticed in which she is most nervous when she is doing her first drive of the day. She knows it and we know it, so we don’t spring new stuff on her until she has done her first drive. A few days ago I had errands to run and places to go, so I thought why not get chauffeured around? Granted it was probably more like “Driving Miss. Daisy” in my daughter’s eyes but that didn’t matter to me, I was enjoying the ride. Part of the errands meant we had to go on a bypass that got up to higher speeds than what my daughter had done before. I could tell she was a bit nervous, but knew we had done the initial drive first so she was more comfortable behind the wheel. This also meant going into a gear she hadn’t used before (my hubby and I think it’s important to teach in a manual transmission), she wanted to practice getting into the gear while not moving so that when she needed to while moving she was comfortable. Needless to say she did great. We made it to all our destinations without issue, but boy did we both need a “time out” when we got back to the house. We didn’t feel stressed while in the car but we were both a little worn once we got back home.

A friend once reminded me that it’s up to be to take the time I need to find rest. People will tell us that we need to take a break, go somewhere away from people, have “me time”. They can even mandate that time is taken off (hopefully paid). It’s up to us to actually take the time and do what we need to get grounded (no pun intended). Kids everywhere know what “time out” means. When I was a kid my nose was put in a corner, usually until I remembered what it was I lost, or I came to my senses and apologized for what I did. As an adult, a “time out” means something completely different. It means finding a place in which you can process an event that has happened. It means going to do an activity that you have been wanting to do. It means putting the phone in an area that is away from you so that you can have a bit of freedom. It means getting away from the stressors of life for just a moment so that you can reconnect with the person you are. The difference of a time out as a kid verses a time out as an adult is choice. Kids don’t normally get the choice of a time out, whereas an adult can make the choice and follow it through. So as I sit here and write, I am out on my back deck. I have already spent time earlier this morning on a walk, watering the plants and doing my devotion. My hubby and son have come out a few times to see what I am up to, I am kind in this but I tell them I will be in shortly, my “time out” isn’t done yet. Until next time:

Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…..including you!

Ann Lamont

Threatened

There are different ways in which we can feel threatened. It could cause us to sink into ourselves, question our faith, question the very reason we do what we do. To feel threatened means that the way in which we live our lives is being attacked. The attack hurts, and with most people makes trying impossible.

Change can feel like a threat. Confidence is in the eye of the beholder, and we are our own worst enemy. Think of the job setting in which a new person is hired on to learn how to do a job that another person has and has had for years. The new person wasn’t hired to replace the senior person but rather take on some of the workload and yet the senior person still feels threatened. The confidence is shaken, the self esteem is rocked, and there isn’t a need for it to happen. We tend to think we aren’t good enough if the company had to hire on others, we couldn’t make the cut, we fell behind in our tasks when it really isn’t so.

Our kids can threaten us to loose our minds. Teenagers take what’s left of our sanity, faith, thoughts, and everything else and dance on it like their favorite song came on and it’s on repeat. As a momma with two teenagers I have been blindsided so many times I don’t know which way is up. As I talk with other parents of teens I know that I am not alone in the struggle to keep going every day. Teenagers are threatened daily as they willingly go onto social media, and are told what they should look like, think like and act like. This isn’t so much a soapbox but a sad realization that there are no more secrets in this world. If someone messes up the whole school knows about it in no time flat, because of social media. As parents we try to raise our kids to use their brains, be polite, believe in the good and in God and we feel like we have succeeded until the teenage years hit and it is all thrown back into our faces. Here lies the feeling of being threatened.

The last thing we should do is back down when these types of threats occur. We need to know our worth, we need to know our kid’s worth. We need to know that the people around us have worth. We need to fight the assumed threat with a counter attack. When we tell ourselves that we are not cutting it, that we are lacking, we need to change our thoughts. We need to replace with encouraging words, thoughts and actions. We feel better when we do for others so why not do it for ourselves? That builds the confidence back up and quiets the threat.

We need to fight for our kids, fight for them on our knees in prayer. When they decide to do something out of the norm we talk with them, fight for them, and be there for them. Society will tell them how to be a certain way, but families can still teach them to think for themselves. It is not easy because they will still make choices that you don’t want them to make but if they know they are supported and loved the threat will be quieted.

I admit there were recent time in which it was rough for me as a momma. The decisions that were made and then voiced to me hurt my heart and made me want to turn and hide. There were tears shed but there were also prayers lifted. To the world the decisions wouldn’t be seen as huge but for me they were. All I can do is love, pray and support my kids. That’s all any of us can do for ourselves for each other, and for our kids. There is power in believing that love conquers all. With love comes joy. I hurt but my joy runs deep. There is my strength. I can love my family and the people around me because of it. Until next time:

Oh honey,

Don’t worry about being merely beautiful. Be bold. Be wild. Be strong. Be confident.

Be independent & intelligent. Be fierce. Be brave enough to be real in this fake world.

Redefine beauty.

Brooke Hampton

Unexpected Smiles

A couple of years ago I had a birthday. Actually I have a birthday every year, thankfully. This event was special because it was an ordinary day. I think after turning forty the thrill of birthdays isn’t as big as it used to be. The day (at least for me) tends to be just a day in which I add another number to the years I have been alive. So when my birthday came, I went to work like normal. Some of my close friends said “Happy Birthday!” when I saw them, but really it was an average day. What made it special was when I had gone back to the clinic after running some errands I was surprised with the biggest cheesecake I have ever seen. There is a place in town that make the most amazing cheesecakes and usually I just buy a slice of one of their cakes and enjoy for a couple of days because of how big the slice is. What came with this cheesecake was balloons. Big beautiful, colorful balloons. My boss had been called out of town unexpectantly and while away had arranged for a friend to bring these surprises to me. They made me bloom with an unexpected smile.

The feeling I had was like getting a letter in the mail as a kid. I absolutely loved getting letters as a kid. Usually it was from my great aunt in Nebraska, or from my great grandma in California. They were letters that talked about life, and they were addressed to me. They were a look into the world that was outside of my little world I lived in. I have saved most of those letters and from time to time I will get them out just to remember the ladies that wrote them and have a smile come across my face. It’s amazing how a simple piece of paper with words can make you feel at home and loved.

When I moved away and got married, I met people in the town we lived in. One gal in particular had the gift of giving out unexpected smiles. When her kids and mine were little they were constantly together (it helped that we worked together). She had the superpower of making people feel special. You know the kind of person I mean? The one that shows up with your favorite drink from the coffee shop, or offers to take your kids for a play date so that you can have some free time. Our job had us working with kids a lot. Since we worked with the kids we would also get to know their parents. There would be times when a kid would get sick, or get hurt and we would hear about it from the parents. By the end of that same day of hearing the news my friend would have a care package made up. She would then go out of her way to bring it to the kid’s home. She knew that power of spreading love.

Negativity has a way of coming into our lives. We can be the most positive, joyous person alive but still have to deal with negativity. We want to focus on what someone did wrong, we watch to see if someone will fail. We don’t like change usually and will look for what might go wrong because of the change. It’s a choice we have to make to look for the good, and to act on an idea of doing good. My boss didn’t have to organize a cake and balloons to show up for my birthday. Hand written letters have gone to the wayside thanks to texting and social media but that doesn’t mean they are obsolete. Our mailboxes tend to have bills and junk mail. I am not sure if someone would know what to do with a handwritten note, but my guess is they would have an unexpected smile after reading it. As for simple acts of kindness, those can cost us nothing but make us the richest people in the world. When you do something nice for someone else it doesn’t just brighten their day it will brighten yours too. We get caught up in the daily flow of our lives and don’t tend to think about what can be done to spread some happiness. Love your neighbor as yourself, the greatest commandment. Not easy but worth it. Until next time:

Raise Up A Child

As the pictures scrolled by and the memories flooded in, the amount of different hairstyles was enough to make your eyes spin. Three children with three different views of the world and among other things hair styles. When the girls were younger the only person that could get them to sit still long enough to do their hair in a cute hairstyle was their grandma. They had so many choices of hair ties and barrettes, and they had the cute hair that curled at the ends on it’s own accord, or for my middle child had ringlets falling around her face. My son had short hair most of the time unless we let it grow longer than normal then my hubby took it into his own hands and some weird haircuts were done. We figured it will grow back so why not.

As the kids got older their styles changed as did the way they view the world around them. We raised them to “love their neighbor, as themselves”, and to love people like Christ loved people. The world taught them that life is tough, and so we try and hold onto the quirkiness of life by enjoying life to the best of our ability. Years ago my girls came up with the idea of a “end of the summer slumber party”. We would invite their friends over to the house, buy some pizza, set up water balloon fights, and supply enough snacks and candy to keep them going all night. This was put on for a few years with one of the years instead of water balloons it was a nerf war obstacle course. Over time that activity evolved into a “girls day out” and a “man’s day, do what you want” day.

As parents we often think that we are raising up our children, and we are, but we forget that as we are raising them, they are raising us. As a parent one of my main goals was to have my children grow up to be good people, with good work ethics, who want to enjoy the world around them. The life lessons that were used to teach them these things were shown to them so they could follow the examples. On the flip side, they showed me that jumping in puddles makes for large splashes. They showed me that when you find a big hill on a bike ride, you ride up to the top of it so that you can fly. They showed me that trying something new like a salad made from spinach, skittles, cucumbers, and red licorice made sound gross but it’s worth a try (side note, it was not worth the try….gross!). They also showed me that if I gave them room to grow they would sprout exponentially.

Parenting is not an easy task. Tunnel vision can happen. There are times when what you really want to do is stick you head in a hole and hope that the current crisis passes quickly. It’s in these moments that your kids will teach you resilience. They will teach you that talking to someone about what’s going on is helpful. It is also in these moments when you dig a little deeper, you open your eyes and you take a deep breath, and you redirect the situation for a short time. One day as I walked through the grocery store I saw a bag of those water balloons that have the attachment that makes filling them up faster and easier. I bought a couple of bags of them. I didn’t have a plan for when to use them, but it turns out I didn’t need to. My son one day saw them laying on my dresser and gave me this look. The rest of the family had all been doing their own things when my son and I decided they “needed” a distraction. Our first victim was one of his sisters. We had already filled the balloons so all we had to do was draw her out. By the time she was soaked we had gotten my other daughter, my hubby and even the dogs in on the war.

These will be the things that will be remembered. These will also be the things that helped us get through the tougher years of raising kids. Kids are being asked to grow up too quickly. They have more ways to have the world shoved into their faces than ever before. Proverbs 22:6 says “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” Hairstyles and even hair colors will change but they are not permanent. When we are raised to love others as we love ourselves, that sticks with us. When we are raised to work hard but give ourselves time to enjoy life that sticks with us. Life is always going to be tough, but if we train ourselves to look for the good, to find the joy in the simple we will see that the hard times are more manageable. Until next time:

Parenting:

You will teach them to fly, but they will not fly your flight. You will teach them to dream, but they will not dream your dream. You will teach them to live, but they will not live your life. Nevertheless, in every flight, in every life, in every dream, the print of the way you taught them will remain.

Mother Theresa

I’ll Be Back In a Little While

To my family that means she needs a break and will be subjecting her body to a bit of exercise. Exercise hasn’t always been an out for me. I didn’t always like putting in the work to feel better. There were more times than not that I would rather eat my way through a much needed break, than “work’ through one. But then my go to started to be a walk in the neighborhood with my dogs. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to convince a dog to go on a walk? When it comes to my two all that is needed is the jingle of the collars and they are waiting at the door. Once we’re out of the door we get into a rhythm and start moving.

Some people use other tactics to wind down. I was driving into work one day and I saw this guy running down the sidewalk. He didn’t seem to be running from anyone or thing in particular, but instead had a vest on that looked to hold water with a hose attached to it that made it easy for him to get a drink as he ran. He was even looking like he was enjoying what he was doing, and so as I passed him I cheered him on in my head. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a part of me that gets excited when I see someone running because I used to run. There is a thrill to running, it’s you against yourself. There are goals that are set, there are finish lines to be ran over, and there is a “runner’s high” that needs to be felt. A few years back a client had walked into the vet hospital I had worked for and announced that she was in need of a running buddy. Unbeknownst to her I had be thinking about starting to run so I waved my hand in the air and said “pick me, pick me!” Not really but it was close. We started with weekly “runs” that were more walking than running. But as we kept going the walking times turned more into running times. By the time we had our “running career” going we had 5k, 10k’s and 1/2 marathons under our belts. For me, having kids slowed my running dates down, but for my friend she went on to do marathons and more. What we needed from each other was for one of us to say “pick me! pick me!”

The need to be there for my family was what fueled the next round of changes in my exercise routine. There no longer was a rush to be faster than I was before more more to be stronger than I was before. Mentally, physically and spiritually. As with most of us, work takes it’s toll on our lives. We can enjoy our jobs immensely but still be drained at the end of the day. So once again, exercise was the answer, at least for some of the problem. Exercising releases endorphins that help us feel better, we may have just pushed our bodies to the limit but we did it with a smile. When time is set aside to work out, it’s time set aside to create a healthier version of yourself. Going to the gym isn’t something that I have time for but I do have time to work out at home. Eating healthy (at least the way that it’s portrayed on social media) isn’t in the cards for me either, but intermittent fasting is. Finding what works for you will increase the chances of you continuing on in your fitness goals.

Physical exercising isn’t the only way to be stronger though. What excites you mentally? What pushes you to have a stronger faith? Do you have ways to work on your emotional health? I wrote a children’s book recently. My friend will create these doodles that have so much personality you can almost feel what she was feeling when she created them. My sister does bible studies with a friend and meets with her weekly. Another friend has chickens, a dog and a cat that seem to keep her busy and very happy. Getting our bodies moving has so many wonderful benefits, but that is only part of the picture. Setting time aside, even telling the family “I’ll be back in a little while” encourages us to do what makes us stronger, happier and healthier. Until next time:

Everything you need is already inside you. Don’t wait for others to light your fire. You have your own matches!

Unknown

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was not a care in the world. The most that had to be done was to be out of the house before my mom got the slightest inclination that I was bored, (she had a knack for finding chores that needed to be done around the house). Us kids would dig our way to china, climb walls, play hide and seek and ride our bikes all around town. We would end up at the house for lunch occasionally but for the most part knew to be home in time for dinner. The only change in this routine was when school was in session and that took up most of our days. There wasn’t a thing of social media and so when something stupid was said or done it was spread through the friend group but no further, and it usually took hours to spread vs. seconds. When someone was challenged to do something there wasn’t a video of it to upload, instead it was bragging rights told to anyone who would listen which usually just meant the siblings.

Once upon a time, life wasn’t any easier than it is today, but it was simpler. I feel as if I am a grandma talking to her grandchildren, but am instead a mom who is watching her kids grow up in a era in which everything is recorded and noticed and judged within seconds of something happening. Phones are in pockets and the fun thing to do is to see how long you can make a spam call last when they are asking a 14 year old about their car’s extended warranty. A friend once told me she felt lost when she would forget her phone at home and I remember feeling a sense of relief when empathizing with her as I thought about the freedom that held for me. I use my phone so much for work, and for life that when I chose to leave it back on it’s charger there is a sense of freedom, and yes even joy in knowing I don’t have to pay attention to it. It’s as if I am unlocking myself from it.

Once upon a time, can be now. Life isn’t going going to be easier but it can be made simpler. I have talked over the last couple of years about how dogs and cats have it figured out. They wake up, they eat/drink and do their business outside or in the litter pan. They play with their people or in the case of the cat ignore their people and then they find a good place to sleep. They live simple lives for the most part. We can follow their example in finding the simple. Just because we are “told” how our lives should be lived doesn’t mean we have to obey. We can chose to turn off the busy, but it’s a choice that has to be set as a priority. A couple of years ago I worked two part time jobs which meant I had Sundays off only. I started to tell friends and family that I would have my phone off. It was going to be my day. I would spend it how I wanted but there was not going to be outside influences allowed in. That was the start of the mindset of simpler times. I didn’t want a “once upon a time” storyline that talked about loosing myself in the busy.

When when my kids look back on their “once upon a time” they will talk about the social media influences, the anxieties that are becoming a common place thing, but I hope they will also talk about the simple days in which they played outside, road their bikes, played with the dogs in the back yard and went to the library for actual books. I hope they talk about the silly board games we played together as a family and the fact that when they did see something funny on YouTube that they were able to share it with their parents because their parents saw the importance of valued times with their kids. Now more than ever we have to chose to have simpler times. A good friend of mine gets out the markers and colored pencils after work to unwind from the day. Another friend is so creative with making cards. My best friend raises chickens and even tried out turkeys this year with her girls. It won’t matter years down the road how busy you were, what will matter is what you did with your time. Did you find joy in what you chose to spend your time on? Was there personal growth, family love, and time to smell the sunflowers? Once upon a time shouldn’t just be limited to fairytales. Until next time I want to share this quote that a friend shared with me:

And every day the world will drag you by the hand yelling: “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this! And this!”

And each day it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.”

Iain Thomas

Are You Brave Enough?

As I sat one night going over the activities of the week, I had to ask myself “Am I Brave Enough?” This is a tough question to ask. It depends on the content we are talking about. What had recently happened to me was the publishing of my new kids book ” Rae’s New Shine“. I had created this book that for me, helped me see that I do have worth and that I bring value into the world. What this also created was an opportunity to share my book to the world. Now when I mean the world, I mean my own small little world as well as the internet. That is really a scary thought. It means I am sharing my thoughts with people who know me. It almost seems easier to share with the internet. Don’t get me wrong, the people that know me have been super supportive but it is still putting yourself out there to be loved or criticized. So in light of sharing my book I ultimately had to ask if I was brave enough to share my “baby” with everyone. It is a bit nerve wracking but in the end, to be brave means trying something new and go from there.

Now if I am talking about teaching my teenager to drive, I admit I really wanted to chicken out of it. There were times in which I suggested that she take her dad out too so that she could get a different perspective. Where in reality my nerves needed a break. Eventually I decided that I needed to be brave, I needed to be a cheerleader for her, and I had to teach her what it took to be brave herself. After time, and imaginary breaks being pushed we extended our driving reach from the local high school parking lot to actual streets. It took showing her in a safe spot that she could go about 20 mph and still stop the car if needed. Now if I could just get her to parallel park.

Being brave means saying something to someone that is hard to say. Now a days you have to carefully speak as some people tend to get defensive quicker than others. There are times in which that has to be thrown to the wind and words need to be said. Have you ever met someone that when a conversation is being had there are key words that can completely turn them off from listening? Now most of the time the describes teenagers in general, but what if it is something that is critical to this person’s wellbeing but they refuse to listen. This could be anything from a doctor telling his patient they have to take a certain medication to live comfortably and having them refuse because of fear, to a parent telling their 3 year old to keep all four chair legs on the floor so they don’t fall, and they proceed to fall because they didn’t listen to the warning.

Every day people step out of their homes choosing to be brave. They live with a certain lifestyle that goes against the norm, they are being brave. Someone who looks different from others decides to live a normal life is being brave. A teenager talking to her parents about a hot topic is being brave. To be brave doesn’t mean you don’t have fear. It just means you will walk past that fear constantly and just keep going. We wouldn’t have so many great inventions, conversations, products if the people that started them let fear rule. One thing is for certain, we will all go from this earth one day. While we were here did we choose to be brave or did we chose to live in a state of fear. I hope bravery is a constant in your life. I hope you life and enjoy the ups and downs of life. I hope you love, and love others. Where you brave enough to try? Until next time:

Oh honey, don’t worry about being merely beautiful. Be bold. Be wild. Be strong. Be confident. Be independent & intelligent. Be fierce. Be brave enough to be real in this fake world. Redefine beauty.

Brooke Hampton

The Influence You Make

Over the course of my life I have been around so many different people. There have been narcissists, to genuine people. When I was younger I was more willing to be influenced by the people I surrounded myself with because I was willing to believe that if they were doing whatever they were doing it must be ok. I mean why would I hang out with them if they weren’t the true deal? As I matured and got some life experiences under my belt I learned that in most situations people will do what is best for them. They will believe and act it a way that will benefit them. If by chance others benefit from what they have done, that’s great, but this is so backwards from the way we should be.

I often refer to the fact that we should be influenced and should follow along with the greatest teacher/leader there ever was. Christ Jesus influenced people. He did it not for His benefit but for theirs. He loved the unlovable and took people society would call outcasts and made them into people that society held with respect. These outcasts were no different than you or I. They would do things to benefit themselves and even their families. They would use their power (if they had it ex: King David) to further their cause. They would offer their help in return for shelter from the authorities in their town (Hagar). One woman even complained to Jesus about having to do all of the household chores while her sister chose to sit and listen to His teachings.

We have “influencers” today as you know . We all have seen one or two of them as they show us how to dress better, cook better, dog train better, whatever it is we sit for hours watching their little reels/posts. Our kids run to us asking yet again if they can show us this “funny” video. I can tell you I have watched so many videos on how to apply my make up like a professional, which is silly since I where so little make up you might as well say I don’t wear any at all. I watch parents and their kids dance to some popular song just so I can wish to dance like they do. I allow these “influencers” into my free space for the sole purpose of killing time. When I could be influencing my kids, myself, my family to do something better for the greater good.

The people I have around me influence me. I am older and wiser in knowing that I don’t have to believe in or do whatever it is they do, but ultimately little bits here and there get processed and stored in the back of my brain. The same goes for what I do and say around them. So as a Christian do I force my thoughts and religion onto those I am around? Of course not, but I also stand my ground when I don’t feel comfortable about something said or a situation in which what I believe is being made fun of. I would rather influence in the way Christ did, with compassion, and grace. He loved but didn’t accept wrongdoings. He would teach in a way that made the student think and come to their own conclusions. He would guide and be patient. There was no competition on who was more popular, who was more “right”, on who was “better for the part”. He was who He was without explaining Himself, without forcing.

When we chose to open our mouths in anger or in love we need to think about how this will affect the person receiving what we are dishing out. Sometimes they need to hear what is being said or see what is being “acted out” but in other situations they don’t. We are responsible for our words and actions. We are responsible for how we want to influence people, though we are not responsible for how they ultimately get influenced. Each and every day, hour, minute we make choices that can harm or help. Think about the best people you know. Why are they the best in your eyes? I can almost bet it’s because of the way they treated you, or the way they treated or talked to others. I can bet it’s not because of how nasty or mean they were. Think about that the next time you feel you need to make your presence known. Until next time:

Chase goals, not people

Celebrate your small wins

Take a break if you need it

Do something that makes you feel good

Learn something in everything

Ourmindfullife.com

It’s a Beautiful Morning

The sun is shining, the flowers are in full bloom and my wonderful hubby has a wonderful way of keeping our house cool as the temperatures rise outside. I am a summer person, I love to be warm, though 102 degrees is a little too warm, you won’t hear me complaining about it. The touch of the sun as you step out in the morning can make you feel alive, like you can take on the world!

This morning, as usual we took our dogs out on a walk. Early morning walks have turned into such an important part of my day. It’s a way of waking up, getting the blood flowing, since I usually have my hubby with me, it’s a time to catch up. It’s also a time to dream. There is a magical time in between wake up, get up, the dog’s wiggle butts as they realize it’s walk time, to getting out and walking. Most people are still asleep, the world is quiet (other than the random big truck with the noisy engine), it’s a time to enjoy being alive.

Mornings do one thing, they bring on the day. When we roll out of bed we decide if we want to seize the day or let the day seize us. Most of us want to just make it through the day, we want to survive. To be caught in this survival mode isn’t thriving or truly living. What if at the beginning of each day we decide to find the good in it? This past week as my hubby and I went on our morning walks we talked about the future, we talked about work, we talked about the different stages our kids are in. In our walking though there were times of just being quiet and enjoying each other’s company. In these moments I noticed the new horse in the pasture that was a beautiful chestnut color. I noticed that at most houses there were random sunflowers that had popped up (gotta love when birds spread seeds). There is a certain house we walk by often that has this older dog who just loves to hang out on the front porch. We know the owner is a older gentleman too, so when we see the dog we smile knowing that both owner and dog are doing just fine.

Mornings are when at least for me, self care happens. I am a morning person at heart. I love to get stuff done so early. For my sanity I work out, for my family and friend’s sanity I work out. The best time to do that is in the morning. It’s cooler than the rest of the day, I have more energy to exert, and at that point the rest of my family are either sleeping (summertime), getting their breakfast going or in my hubby’s case scrolling through social media for the morning. Mornings become times in which I can do things to take care of myself, so then I can be there to help take care of others.

It’s a beautiful morning! How it’s embraced is how the day goes. I know struggles will happen today. My kids will disagree, the meetings I have may not go as planned, life will still go on. I know there are sunflowers in my future and a date that includes frozen yogurt though. I know that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13. I also know that the lyrics to this song will play over and over in my head. Until next time:

It’s a beautiful morning, ah

I think I’ll go outside for a while

And just smile

Just take in some clean fresh air, boy

No sense in staying inside

If the weather’s fine and you’ve got the time

It’s your chance to wake up and plan another brand new day

Either way

It’s a beautiful morning…….

It’s a Beautiful Morning by The Rascals

Extension of Our Hands

Yesterday was a hot, dry day, perfect for a fun filled day at the waterpark. We packed up the beach towels, grabbed the water bottles, sunscreen, and hats and headed out. Our little town doesn’t have a water park with the big slides and “toilet bowl” ride (the one where you are on a tube and you shoot out of a funnel slide into a big “bowl”, but a few hours south of us there is one. So we left early in the morning and got there right at opening, with our handy dandy phone to tell us how to get there. Before we left though, my son came to me with an idea on how we could keep our phones with us and keep them dry in the process. Though the idea was good, I vetoed it letting him know we all could last a day without our phones attached to us.

And so we did. We paid for our tickets got our lockers and proceeded to place phones, towels, and basically anything other than water into the locker (we lathered up first with sunscreen, so as to not cook our skin off our bodies). We found our inner tubes and followed the lines up to the top of the slides, and within seconds were down at the bottom pools ready to go again. We soon realized that the slides that didn’t require the tubes were much more fun and had faster lines to go through. This whole time there was not a thought about the time and who posted what on one of the social outlets. Even my sister commented on how strange it was that we are so trained to check our phones that when we don’t have them it feels awkward, but here we were killing it as a family without phones.

Some people might say, “well what if someone had to get a hold of you?” or “you missed out on taking pictures to remember your day”. This is true, and I didn’t get all the pictures I wanted to get, and my friend who let my dogs out did text me while I was playing, but I still preferred not having my phone. I got to race my eldest daughter down the slides, just to reach the bottom in time to see her catch air. I got to splash my middle child in the face because she thought it was so funny to get water on my sunglasses for the tenth time. My youngest and I did the roaring rapids slide enough times that I lost my hat and glass at the bottom of the pool (I got my glasses back later, and my hat ended up floating to the surface). My hubby and I saw each other in passing and at lunch when we met to eat, but we were both having fun with the kids so we knew it was worth it. We ended our day with a family hug for my sister (she had to leave early since she had a longer drive home), and ice cream and Icee’s to cool us before climbing into the hot car for the ride home.

Our phones survived the day too, they probably didn’t even miss us, lol. It was so nice to be disconnected. Our kids were not stuck in “zombie land” staring at their phones watching other people have fun. We got to be kids together. We managed a few pictures before my sister left but for the most part the memories we made are not ones that were photo saved to be shared on a social platform, instead they will be ones that are talked about at the dinner table. They will be remembered the next time we do something similar as a family. They will be core memories, are good reminders that family times are so important. This is living joyfully. When the extension of our hands become someone else’s hand, or us holding on to our hats so they don’t fly off as we fly down the slide. There are so many times in which I go down “wish lane” wishing I was around more for my family vs. being busy else ware, but what this does is add guilt to a place where guilt isn’t needed. Doing activities with your family and friends means making time to do it. It can mean setting the phone down and getting out, but the rewards of making the time are awesome. My family and I were exhausted by the time we got home, but the consensus was that we had fun and we were defiantly doing more family activities again soon. Until next time:

The greatest moments in life are not concerned with selfish achievements, but rather with the things we do for the people we love and esteem.

Walt Disney

Dreaming Life!

When my kids were little dreaming was something they did often. They would dream of having ice cream after dinner, often times they would dream of having ice cream for dinner. They would dream of having a certain toy, or even to play with a certain friend. They’re dreams were small but it was if they were born to dream.

As they grew up their dreams turned more significant. How wonderful would it be to catch the eye of a certain special someone? It would be so wonderful to have enough money for whatever it is they have their eye on. At some point the dreaming changes. We were made to dream.

What kind of life would dreams bring us? When we choose to dream big it means that we need to also be willing to work hard for the dreams we have. A few years back I had a dream of being a momma. This wasn’t something I remember obsessing over as a kid, but once I got married, the dream became more important and soon became a reality. My kids made my dream a reality, I work hard daily because of that dream and though the work isn’t easy, the rewards and love I get and feel daily are worth it.

Dreams are there too to help get you away from the day by day routines. I often dream of a day on the couch reading a book, but from that dream came the thought of writing a blog, from which came the idea to write a book. How scary to try out a blog in which people actually read it. Then to try and write a children’s book for parents to read to their kids, terrifying! We are given gifts and talents that should be used. I would never try and train a horse or cook a elegant dinner for my family because I know I do not have those gifts. I have friends with those gifts and I am so happy they do.

My daughter is so talented at drawing and working with kids. This her dream to teach suits her. I love working with animals and feel comfortable in my skills at writing and in my ability to encourage people. God made me to dream big, just as he did everyone else.

The choice is ours to follow the dreams we have. Some dreams may not turn out so well (I mean eating ice cream for dinner every night might end in a major stomach ache), others may be such a success that all you can do is thank God for His blessings and for giving you the gifts and talents He has. Dreams can take work, can be terrifying, but when followed can be so rewarding. What dreams do you have? Are you following them or just letting them collect dust on a shelf. My hope is that you step out in faith, do something different and work towards the goal. Until next time:

While you might be doubting yourself, someone else is admiring your strength.

Unknown

Letting Things Fall Into Place

Life is so much easier when all falls into place. Life is also more fun when the water balloons and the ice cream come out. We had a full week of work, vacation bible study and appointments. To say I saw my family for about an hour each day last week is an understatement. Most of the days I would get off work to head to the church to volunteer in the VBS program. By the time it ended and we got home the kids had to get to bed and I had to fall into mine. This was also the week that there were multiple late night emergencies that needed to be dealt with at the vet hospital I am a nurse at. To top it all off my kids had the various appointments (dentist, PT, haircuts and such) that they needed to get to. Between my hubby and I we get them there, but there is definitely some planning that takes place.

By the time the weekend hit, and the last of the three emergency patients went home I could finally say I was done! The vacation bible school program was an experience to be sure. I was a teacher for the youngest set (3-4 year olds) who go and go and go until they can’t and then they just stop and for some just fall asleep while leaning on someone. The program had kids all the way up to 6th grade and let me tell you, getting all of the kids into the same room and letting them dance and sing was an experience in itself. They laugh, jump and sing for as long as the music plays. It will make a long day feel worth it when you get to go and have fun with kids and act like one yourself. By Friday though, when it ended, I was a bit exhausted and couldn’t wait for Saturday to come.

My middle child had caught wind that somewhere in the house was some water balloons. A while back I had bought one of those packages of water balloons that you hook up to a hose and like 12 balloons get filled up at a time. She had come to me with a plan, and being a bit of a child at heart I was all for it. Saturday was about getting stuff done around the house so that Sunday could be our play day. We try every weekend to try and do something as a family so this adventure would be involving the balloons.

Sunday came quickly, and with church done, lunches ate we decided that going out for ice cream would get the adventure started. The plan came down to surprise. We had to keep the family inside so that we could get the balloons ready and figure a way to get them out. My son makes these kind of attacks easy in the since we just tell him to come look at something outside and he goes. He was our first victim. Once he started yelling and laughing the others in the house came out and promptly became our second and third victims. The only ones that stayed dry were the dogs. We pulled out the hoses once the balloons were all thrown, and finished off the battle with the grand finale of drenching.

Sometimes it is just fun to be a kid. Put the responsibilities off for a little while and just have fun. Eat ice cream outside, fill the pool, have a water fight, play tag, run around barefoot, have dessert before dinner. Let things fall into place, and if you need to take a nap. Adulting is hard so why not let go every once in a while and let things fall into place. Until next time:

I don’t want to adult today. I don’t even want to human today. Today, I want to Goat. Gonna eat all day and head-butt anyone who tries to stop me.

Unknow

A Part of the Story

This weekend had me thinking a lot. It was like I was thrown into this story line that I didn’t really want to be a part of but I had no choice. The Bible commands us to fear God, and follow His commandments. That is the what we as humans are to do. It doesn’t tell us to judge our fellow humans, it doesn’t tell us to make others feel guilty for their point of views, it simply tells us to fear God and follow His commandments. The rest is His job. The problem with this, is the world gets in the way. There always seems to be a problem that needs to be “fixed”. If someone is different than the crowed they must be broken. My question is this, if someone is “broken”, how can they go and fix someone else who is “broken”? They can’t, nor is it their job to.

The greatest commandment and the most important is to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself. Nowhere in this commandment does it say to fix or judge. There is no fear in love and it casts out all fears. Our lives are a story, they tell others who we are. God is a part of our story if we allow Him to be. We have that choice to say yes or no to Him. What a beautiful part of the story He is though if we allow Him to be, because He teaches us to love and to trust Him in the good and bad times.

When I was young there was no doubt in my mind that I would have Him as part of my story. I had people in my life who loved me and cared about who I became. I was always a strong willed person, but I also always had my faith to guide me. I had the solid foundation in which I could build my life upon. As an adult married with kids, this foundation kept me stable but did not make my life easy. My story was written to have thorns, to have pitfalls, and to have times in which I want to just say “forget it!” and turn away from my faith that makes being a member of society hard. Everyday I have to start my chapter for the day with a choice. Do I allow what I see on social media to harm my thoughts, my day my way of living? Do I decide to forgo the scrolling and head straight to my Bible so that I can learn and grow? Do I allow what people say during the day to affect the way I treat them? Do I love as God loves me?

A good friend of mine sent me a link to a song yesterday that I didn’t know I needed to hear. I had seen something on social media earlier in the day that really affected me and caused me to doubt. I felt as if I was in a plot twist and didn’t know who to talk to about it. When I finally realized my only person I could talk to was God, I went to my Bible and I prayed. I didn’t let anyone else know how I was feeling and how the post affected me. Throughout the day I received blessings and encouragements from out of the blue. Then finally when I got this link from my friend I knew that in all things God is there. He is carrying me when I feel He isn’t present, but He is still there. Life is not easy. The stories of the people around you are going to be different than yours. Yes there will be similarities but they will be different outcomes and reactions. My life is hard, but my hard may not be seen as hard in someone else’s eyes. When I watch my kids grow and make the decisions that they make, I want to jump for joy at some and at others I am fighting for them on my knees, all the while loving and supporting them through their decision processes.

I love to read, when I was younger I used to read these books that were detective type books where there was a problem that needed to be solved but the author made it to where the reader would choose one of two outcomes. So basically you would start reading the story, and then get to a point where you as the reader would make a decision, either turn the page and keep going down that plot line or turn to a page number specified to change up the outcome. If you didn’t like your choice you could go back and choose the one you didn’t originally chose. Our lives can be this way too, just because we chose one path doesn’t mean we can go back chose a different path. Not once was I ever told life would be easy. So I would not want anyone reading this to think I am saying that now. Life is hard. Creating your story is hard. Living your story is harder because other people’s stories are going to intertwine with yours. If you have a solid foundation, knowing that LOVE casts out all fear, then there is hope and yes even joy in knowing you are not alone in your narrative. Until next time:

You absolutely have to become ok with not being liked. No matter how loving or kind you are, you will never people please your way into collective acceptance. You could be a whole ray of sunshine and people will hate you because they like the rain. So just do you.

Unknown
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.    Ecclesiastes 12:13

Just Fix It!

Have you noticed that the harder you try to fix something the worse it gets? My lovely daughter for the Forth of July wanted to make some cookies. She asked me what kind I would like and started right in. The cookies turned out amazing, when she started to work on the homemade frosting, things started to fall apart. She wanted to know what color I wanted so I said yellow. The yellow turned to orange, which eventually turned into this burnt orange color which was all due to her putting into too much of one color in. Then due to not whipping the butter to the right consistency the end product was more of a soupy sweet mess. Needless to say, she started over. She tried to fix the problem she was having, but instead of getting better it progressively got worse until she had to try again.

This was a small issue that didn’t cost her much other than time and a few ingredients. When we did a remodel on our house, floor joists were ordered based on measurements taken. What wasn’t taken into account was that our original house was not quite square. So when the joist arrived and the workers started to install them, they ran into the problem of them not going in properly with what had already been put in. When different attempts were tried to get them to fit, new joists had to be ordered. This was a costly mistake that could have been avoided but was eventually made right.

Mistakes happen, problems pop up. Life is never perfect, and finding ways to problem solve will be essential. Problem solving can be fun. It can be a time of growth and development. It can be frustrating if you let it. Currently as I write this I am in the process of trying to publish a children’s book I wrote. It’s not that the process is hard, it’s that it is time consuming, there are a lot of stumbling blocks that I have to hurtle myself over. I love this challenge, I want to make this happen. I have to be creative, and find ways to set time aside to just get it done. The only person I will hurt for procrastinating on this is myself. This is not a bad problem to have to fix but it is one that feels like I am climbing a steep hill to get it done.

In each one of these scenarios the option to give up is there. The self dialog of “it’s too hard, or I’ve messed it up too much” is there, but so is the silence button. We learn and grow from making mistake and finding ways to fix them. People don’t become experts at what they do by sitting idly by hoping that someone will come along and fix what’s before them. They keep going, trying different things until something finally works. When my kids were younger and learning to walk we didn’t let them give up the first time they fell on their bottoms. We would keep picking them up, we would encourage them, and they would finally get it. They would become masters at walking, instead of giving up the first time they fell. In some ways we as adults need to copy the younger generation and keep getting up. Keep trying even if it’s hard, keep listening to the encouragements, keep going. Problems won’t fix themselves, we need to tackle them over and over again, and learn from each time we try, so keep trying! Until next time:

Most people don’t want to be a part of the process, they just want to be a part of the outcome. But the process is where you figure out who’s worth being a part of the outcome.

Carey Lohrenz

What’s Your Environment?

Usually when I get on the road to start my day, I think about the appointments I have, the tasks that I have to accomplish, and of course the normal everyday things you think about. I tend to do this often especially when the drive is a longer one. I don’t realize the underlying stress that comes with doing this, because it is so normal to me. I have even had coworkers in the truck with me that will get the random thought pass through my lips about some case that happened the day before. I get into work mode and forget that I can just enjoy the ride. What an environment I created!

One of my favorite things to do is to sit out on my back deck and read. It is peaceful, it is warm and I have my own slice of nature around me. Some homes I have visited just exude peacefulness. It’s as if there is a line that is crossed from my truck to their front door. One client/friend has a house in the middle of nowhere (or so it seems) the she and her husband built. The have a long drive that ends at their 3 story log/stone home. You are greeted right away by their donkeys, and then as you park you will get a glimpse of their two peacocks and the pair of geese waddling away. Their spiral staircase leads to the second story that has windows that overlooks the land beyond. The home invites you to stay as well as it’s owners. They have made their “environment” inviting and open.

Another friend of mine has this cabin in the woods. To be honest, just thinking about it spreads a peacefulness through me. As much as I love this cabin I love it’s owner’s more. Their “heart environment” is open, and loving. They are the kind of people that will be there for you. They are strong in their convictions, are kind, loving, and have an inviting way about them. When I visit with them, there is a security in knowing I will not be judge and I can be myself.

All too often my “heart environment” turns cynical instead of loving. I am working on this. When I think about the “environment” I am offering to people I would love for it to be joyous, loving, and a place where they feel safe to be themselves. I can only offer this environment if I have made it available to myself. The only way this can happen is if I chose to let it happen. I have to chose what I allow into my life. I have to chose what I get upset about and how I react to what upsets me. My kids love to see what will ruffle my feathers. At one point they told me they brought up things to me just to see what my reaction would be. When I am at work it’s the hardest for me, since I expect certain work ethics which I sometimes get. I have to chose to give grace and know that my expectations may not be my coworkers reality. I may have different work ethics then they do, doesn’t make one wrong over the other just different. Christ was a leader and He had expectations of His followers. His “heart environment” was joyful, loving and gracious. He is the only example that should be followed when it comes to the kind of “environment” we put out there.

Our “environments” can show people who we truly are. Striving to be the kind of person someone feels comfortable with is goal worthy. When we are stressed, cranky, rude and insensitive people feel it. When we are not genuine people feel it. True colors shine through when you are patient enough to wait. When there is a deep joy, a peace and a lifestyle of acceptance and love, there is strength in that. People feel that and want to be near that, like a good book on the back deck being warmed by the sun. Until next time:

Everything you need is already inside you. Don’t wait for others to light your fire. You have your own matches.

Unknown

Enjoying Along the Way

The alarm clock went off but we were already awake. Charlie was pacing in her kennel waiting to get out and pounce on the toy that was right outside of the door. Jorj lifted his head slightly to look back at me eyes inquiring if it really was time to let his little sister out. Every morning is like this, the alarm goes off, Charlie paces waiting for the moment the door opens, and Jorj seemingly rolling his eyes. We walk them early only because it is the perfect time to get out while the neighborhood seems to still be sleeping. My sweet hubby and I have a chance to talk about the day, the dogs have a chance to smell and re-smell the yards that we pass. We all get our exercise, and to be honest it charges us up for the day.

As we got back to the house there were a lot of things to get done. We were getting ready to go on our annual camping trip to the coast so that meant packing, repacking and checking the list over and over again. To make matters a little more interesting I still had to work for half a day while Tim and two of our three kids left to start the journey west. It is very hard to stay focused on work when you know there is a campfire and crickets waiting to be enjoyed. By the time my middle daughter and I left we had a shopping list of items that were forgotten, a full tank of gas, and the air conditioning going.

One of the things I love the most is getting one on one time with my kids. This time I was blessed to have my middle daughter with me. I was taken to a mythical land were clans of cats co-exist and try and out smart the humans that are trying to take over their homes. There were cats that were in a river clan who lived on an island, there were cats in the wind clan that were agile and fast. Each cat had a certain look and backstory. She described what each looked like and why they were important in the land. We talked about her competition and if she thought she did well and when the conversation ended because she fell asleep I felt so special that I got to have a chance to see the inside of her world. As we pulled into my in-laws house for the night, we unfolded ourselves out of the car, grabbed our food and enjoyed relaxing for a bit, until I suggested we go for a walk.

The walk turned into a bike ride, which meant going up a hill. Lets just say we made it half way up and then had to walk the bikes the rest of the way. We are both in shape so I will blame it on the ice cream we just ate. Getting to the top was so worth it though, because that meant we got to fly down that same hill. There is something about going fast and having the wind in your sails. The thrill of it makes up for the work it takes to get up the hill in the first place. After two more times of “thrill riding” it was time to finally settle in and just relax. The vacation officially starts when we get to the coast but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves along the way.

Tomorrow will bring picking strawberries, watering the plants, doing the last minute shopping, and picking up the surprise cake for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary. My daughter will finish her competition and then we will be on our way to the best little campsite in Oregon (at least in my mind). There will be conversations and naps, there will be the anticipation of pulling into our designated camping spot for the week. The nieces and nephews will be happy to see us as will my other two kids, the hubby and the dogs. It will be a time to not think about life and just relax. It will be the best that it can be and I can’t wait! Until next time:

Remember,

Most of your stress comes from the way you respond, not the way life is. Adjust your attitude, and all that extra stress is gone.

Unknown

If Only…

As she looked in the mirror and saw the flaws in her body and face she thought to herself “if only”. If only I wasn’t as chunky, if only my eyes were blue and my hair wasn’t starting to turn grey. If only my arms were more fit and my waist was more slim. If only I was smarter and more talented, then maybe, just maybe I would be happier. The critical thoughts hit their mark, making her feel unworthy to do the day ahead, so she fell back into herself and found activities to keep her mind off of what she thought of herself. What she doesn’t realize is the critical thoughts she had for herself are not just hurting her, they are hurting her future self, her family, and the people around her.

What if all of the things she was saying to herself were spoken out loud? What if her teenage daughter overheard her saying these things? What if her husband did? The self criticisms are already screaming at her in her mind and now the people she loves just heard them as well. We are what we choose to be, what we want to believe about ourselves. So if we say we are ugly, then we believe we are. If we say we are not smart, then we believe we are. That doesn’t mean the people around us believe that. What if that teenage daughter thought the world of her mom and looked up to her for how she wants to live her life? What if the husband thinks she is the most beautiful woman in the world and so very smart? And now how he feels about her is thrown back in hi face?

We all have our doubts about ourselves. Things we want to change, things we wish were different. We were made with a purpose though, and those things we want to change and that we want different should not define us. We are our own worst critics. Some ladies were overheard at a restaurant recently talking about an event that happened at their job. One of the ladies was feeling bad about getting upset at a co-worker. Instead of allowing the gal to go further about feeling bad her friends gently reminding her that she is not perfect. That sometimes getting upset needs to happen but it needs to be done respectfully. We are not perfect, which means we need to give ourselves grace.

Some of the best people I know if my life accept who they are, flaws and all and encourage others to do the same. Their lives are not perfect and they are ok with that. I imagine when they look in the mirror they have a different conversation with themselves. I would think they would say things like: “Today is going to be a good day. I will do my best, and I will think the best of others. I will encourage those around me, and I seek out ways to be a blessing to someone I meet. I will love as Christ loves me.” Then they will apply that eyeliner, straighten their outfit and head out into the world. This would be the conversation I would love to have with myself each and every morning. When I look at my family and listen to their conversations, I pray they know they are special. When I have the conversations with myself in the mirror I try and replace the criticisms with affirmations not just for my family, but for myself. How can someone love others when they can’t love themselves?

If only we were kinder to ourselves, then we could be kind to others. If only we saw our bodies as works in progress rather than failures to keep up with what the world says, we would love our rolls, and respect the greys we earned. If only we decided to take care of ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, we would be able to love who we are more, thus making it possible to love others. If only we could be selfless instead of selfish, acknowledging the world doesn’t revolve around us. The “if onlys” could define us or confine us, the choice is ours. What “if onlys” are you facing? What would happen if we encouraged who we are vs. discouraged who we are? The world needs more people who are encouragers, who accept people for who they are. We need families that love each other, and support the differences. We need the love that Christ teaches us in 1John 4:7-11:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation of our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Until next time:    

First, know your worth

Second, control your emotions

Third, never settle

Unknown

Winner or Loser

The last days of school are upon us, and most schools do “field days” on the second to the last day of school so that class parties can be on the last day. These field days usually consist of running the track, jumping over hurdles, bean toss games and so much more. Most events are team events in which someone is picked as the leader who then gets to chose who is on their team. As my son was talking about this he made the comment “I wonder if I will be a winner or a loser”. When I asked him to clarify the statement he said you’re a winner if you are one of the first few chosen and a loser if you are a part of the last few kids chosen for the teams. My first response was “oh this is so sad” but in the world of kids this is how they see the choosing process. The kids are not winners or losers in general, but when it comes to what they are being chosen for this is how they are divided up.

In our adult world I would love to say that we are not this way, but we are. It’s different in the sense that it’s no longer winners or losers but is the person going to be difficult or not? Will they have a different view than us? Are they fun loving, and positive? Do they try and stand out or fit in like camouflage?

Think about this for a moment, when you are somewhere like work, and you are with a group of people that flow well together and get stuff done. What happens when the next shift starts to come in, or there is a new person that is getting trained up? The atmosphere changes, the flow is no longer smooth. The change creates a ripple, one that makes the task at hand not as simple to accomplish. When I first started in the vet med world, I was the one causing the change. I was working my way up from picking up poop and cleaning cages to working alongside some of the greats (in my mind) of the vet tech world. The two ladies in particular could have chosen to label me a “loser” someone who would make life for them a bit harder because they would have to train me, or they could do what they did and labeled me a “winner”, someone they saw had potential to learn and grow. When they gave me a chance it made me want to be better, focus more, and learn as much as I could.

As I watch my kids grow, and mature I see them move from the elementary school mentality of “winners and losers” to a more mature way of thinking in which they form educated choices about who needs encouragements vs. who can do things on their own. My middle daughter joined a club early on in the school year that dealt with engineering and science. While in this club she made a friend who became her teammate in a competition they had. The two together became a force to be reckoned with. They encouraged each other, bounced ideas of each other and held each other accountable for things as simple as did you eat food today to as complicated as building a working model for their project. They made each other “winners” by supporting each other.

Negative thoughts and actions create a atmosphere in which people don’t want to go near. People don’t want to be around others that will drain them. When there is a person that blames the world for their problems people shy away from talking or being around them. They would be the ones not chosen for the teams. As hard as it is, they have to create the change needed. They have to want to change. Everyone has their issues to deal with, their “crosses to bear”, including the ones that seem to have it all together. There is comfort in knowing that Jesus says in Matthew 11: 28-30:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Each and every day we make a choice. We label people worthy or unworthy by they way they look, what they can offer us, what their political or religious views are. The list can go on and on, but the thing we have to remember is that the same people we are labeling are labeling us as well. So what do you want to be known for? Think about that this week. It’s not really about winners or losers, but about who we are and how we chose to act in this world. Until next time:

Don’t forget to love the way you want to be loved, listen the way you want to be heard, give the way you hope others give, care the way you want others to care, because change doesn’t start with them, it’s starts right here.

Madalyn Beck

What’s in a Name?

Back when I started in the vet world I worked at a hospital in which the main vet was called “Doc”. The vet that came on a couple of years later got the nickname “T”. For these women the nicknames were endearing to them. Names identify who we are. Our parents took the time to pick the name and give it to us. It gave us a place, and then when we were given nicknames it determined how important we were to the person who gave them to us.

I absolutely love having Grandma Mary in my life. She has been in my life for as long as my kids have been alive, plus a couple of years. She started out as “just a friend” to being such an important person in my life. She took me under her wing and allowed me into her world, and her family. Her husband became dad, her boys brothers. Over the years I called her Grandma Mary or Momma Mary so much that others started to also call her that. These are terms of endearment for me towards her.

We do this to our pets too. We call our dog their given names less than we call them by the nicknames we have placed on them. My dog Charlie is Baby Girl, Charlie-girl, Puppy, Little Girl you get the idea. She comes to all of them, has no clue which one is her actual name but we love her enough that she gets these names. Jorj, Lilly and Kiki all have numerous names (our other pets) and it would be so simple to just keep with the actual names we gave them but they are what we use to describe them/their personalities.

My hubby and I did this with our kids, heck we did this with each other. I know I have really messed up when he starts calling me by my real name and not the pet name he has given me. Our kids are not as lenient on what we can call them now a days but when they were younger they were probably so confused on what their actual names were. This is probably why now they have limited us to only certain names we get to call them.

On the flip side it drives me absolutely crazy when my kids are mean, and they decide to call each other things like “Boy! or Girl!” In that small gesture they have taken away the identity of the other person for a moment by refusing to use the name given to them. We have such a hard time in the world today because people don’t know who they are. They have been “that girl, or that person” so long that there isn’t a value given to who they are. A Bible study I participated in a while back talked about how we are known by name by God. We have a purpose and are loved. We are important as a person. It doesn’t matter if I am a mom, or a single woman, or a nurse or a friend. How amazing that I don’t have to prove my worth to be known.

In life we are known by our accomplishments. I visited family a little bit ago and for some reason I felt the need to tell them the accomplishments of my kids vs. just saying my kids are doing well, they are loving life and they can’t wait for the summer to start. Christ knows my kids, but he knows them where they are at. With the struggles they have and the blessings that they are. Christ knows each one of us too. To him I am a daughter doing life the best I can, trying to emulate what I know about Him. I make so many mistakes but they don’t change my right to be called His daughter. That gives me worth and creates a value in me that helps me get through the day to day of life. It is that fact that gives me my self worth. Our names are important, our worth is important, and should never be taken from us. Until next time:

All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.

Brene Brown

Help or Hurt

As I was doing my workout this morning, you could tell the trainer loved to talk. He was a very positive person and I am sure if I was actually in the same room with him his energy would be through the roof. Sadly though this was a recorded session on an app, but even with that fact I could feel his energy. As he we was talking he talked about working out our thoughts and words too. He made the comment “when we meet someone, we could do one of two things: help with our words and actions or hurt with them. What a thought to ponder at 7:30 in the morning, but it is something to think about. This thought process goes for the words we don’t say but still are thought when with certain people.

Have you ever been in a work situation in which a new person shows up for their first day, but you have already heard from someone else a negative thing about them? They may not be your words but the words of that person but they still “hurt” this person. Without them knowing they have to actually work a little bit harder to earn the spot on the team. They unknowingly have to work at proving themself more. On the flip side when there is only positive said about a new person, people are willing to believe this person can only do good. The positive words have helped.

My daughter and her team mate won a competition. They had been working on their project for most of the school year. When they were getting ready to present their project they were confident in their work. We as her parents supported her as well as the teacher and their school. Our actions and words helped lift them up. They now have a chance to present their project to a panel on a national level. You can just feel their excitement. What would have happened if they hadn’t gotten the support they got? They could have gotten as far but I honestly don’t think they would have tried as hard to do their best.

When someone believes in you, you can feel it like a warm blanket. The troubles of life won’t melt away but they are easier to get through. Liz was this person to so many people. Liz’s life was not an easy one. She was successful in the eyes of most people. She owned her own business, helped in the community, knew the ends and outs of getting people to notice new businesses or events. She had a way with people that made them know their thoughts were important, and that they were heard. It seemed as though there wasn’t anything that could get past her way of living, other than her physical health.

Liz had numerous health conditions that would have caused the normal person to crumble. For Liz they were like her super powers. She never let them stop her from her many endeavors. She went as far as doing the Iditarod with her top notch crew of huskies. When she finally succumbed to her health issues, her memorial was filled with people who had been touched by her encouragement. Her words and actions encouraged and helped people to find their strengths, learn new skills, start new businesses and love unconditionally. We need more people like her in this world.

Our brains tend to go to the negative in life and about people. We lock onto what we have heard about them, or what is going on. We want to make the situation or person seem worse than what they are to help make ourselves seem better. We judge before we know someone, and think the worst of a situation before we know all the details. Our thoughts when we are not in control of them can spiral into a spin of negativity. We can train our thoughts to be positive and when we do our outlook becomes so much brighter and full of joy. We are healthier, happier and willing to believe in the good of others. We are called to love one another. We have never been called to hate. Our words and actions will lift others up or cause them crash and burn. We are in control of what we do and say, so why not make them positive. Think on this quote and I hope to talk with you soon. Until next time:

Being rude is easy.

It does not take any effort an is a sign of weakness and insecurity. Kindness shows great self-discipline and strong self-esteem.

Being kind is not always easy.

When dealing with rude people. Kindness is a sign of a person who has done a lot of personal work and has come to a great self-understanding and wisdom.

Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time, because kindness is a sign of STRENGTH.

Unknown

What Chapter are You In?

We have all had those books that we can’t seem to put down. The plot is thick, the main character is about to make a discovery, the truth is about to be told. You just know if you place the book down it will drive you nuts not knowing what will happen next, and so you keep reading as the time slips away. Then there are the books that aren’t that great but still need to be read because then you can move on to the next one in hopes that it will be better. Over the years I have had plenty of both.

Reading is a way to pass the time but what if the book was about your life? What chapter would you be in right now? I love to think about my kids that are in grade school on up to high school. They have so much going on but their lives are just starting. Their lives would be like a mystery novel in which you know the plot but there are so many twists and turns that you become captivated by what could be coming up. Each one has their own story to tell, with each chapter influenced by the world around them. The story becomes more of a living breathing book vs. one that is just pages between covers.

As we grow and mature so do our stories, but the places and events that have happened previously color what is happening now. This is what helps bring the story to life. But what if the plot as we know it starts to get lost. We get so busy, we start out on a certain path that changed somewhere down the line. We became someone we don’t know and lose what we thought we knew. When I was younger I knew for certain that I would be a Christian, who went to college and had a family after I graduated. I did things my way, and thought I knew what was best. As I matured and had accomplishes and struggles the storyline changed. I wanted so badly for the story, the plot to stay the same but experience, people and the world created new chapters in which new adventures awaited. The vibrancy of the words were created by the experiences of the past.

If we saw the people around us as stories being told vs. people to be judged, would we desire to keep reading or toss the book aside because we don’t find it interesting. Ohh the impact this could have! Some people could be as simple as a children’s book with a moral at the end of it, while others are as complicated as a textbook. The world is our bookstore. We browse the shelves picking what we find interesting, so that we can find a place to start reading. My favorite bookstores are the ones in which cozy little nooks are created. They are there to help us get introduced to the story in front of us.

As I finished the most recent book in my Kindle library I pondered the fact that the characters in the story would be great people to know. Though they were fictional they became a part of my life for a short time. I dedicated time to them, I cried and laughed with them. I felt the tension and the pain they dealt with. Their struggles influenced me, even though it was for a short amount of time. My world moved forward without me as I moved forward with the characters of the book. I hated the people they hated and loved those they loved. I wanted to protect who they protected and got to be the “fly on the wall” of their lives. The story made the characters come to life. Our stories make us alive to others. Others come alive to us more when we hear their stories. When we know people’s stories, what made them who they are, it helps us to be who we are, and vise versa.

Who is in your library? What stories did you choose into your life? Did these stories, these chapters cause you to not want to put the book down, or did they make you realize the story is not for you? If the plot feels lost at the moment, it may be time to put the book down but only for a moment so that someone else’s story can help get yours back on track. Until next time:

Sometimes we lose the plot of our own story, sometimes for years. We’re not sure who we are or where we’re going or what the point is.

Then we run across someone who helps us pick up the thread of our narrative again.

Be patient. Some plot lines take a while to make sense

Unknown

Cloudy with Sunshine to Follow

Darkness can only go away when there is light to banish it. The shadows can hide the unknown, but when light is shined into the dark places the fear of the unknown is taken away due to the unknown diminishing. The world has always known fear, uncertainty, and lack of trust. We hear things on the news and go to social media to confirm it. We look at someone who looks a certain way and we cross to the other side of the street. We hear something about someone or some business and think the worst. Instead of looking for the good we navigate to the ugly, the bad. We live in our darkness.

Some live it the grey, it is still a form of darkness. It is like the clouds that appear from seemingly nowhere to block the sun. Our town is known for this type of thing. We step out to beautiful sunshine to have clouds cover it minutes late with a downpour to follow, with sunshine seen just a little ways off. When we live in a grey world we want to have the light but still feel the need to see the world with mistrust. In the last few days there have been awful things that have happened. Lives have been lost and the people that loved the lost have had their lives changed forever. People who were blissfully living in the sunshine, were thrust into the cover of darkness like clouds being blown in by the wind.

In our darkness we need to look for our light. Faith helps guide us, love will sustain us and joy will give us the strength to make it. The little pops of light along the way will bring the warmth needed to defrost us. So how do we find our light? Look for the little things, they will get us over the big things we are battling. This morning I woke up to my Charlie dog so happy to see us awake. She is kenneled at night and when she is let out in the morning she grabs a toy, jumps on the bed and prances around unable to control the wiggle of her tail. She is the light. While at work on Friday I noticed the poppies had started to bloom. These flowers are bright and orange and are the light. My daughter worked really hard on a project, she was given an opportunity to do more with it. We as a family got to celebrate with her and encourage her. That is the light. A coworker had helped in a difficult appointment, when it finished we realized we needed to talk about it which helped us both deal with what happened. That was light shining through.

To me these are the rays of light shining through the storm I am in. My neighbors storm is different than mine and so his rays of light will be different as well. Both of our storms will bring forth life and light. We can appreciate the strength of the storm by seeing the outcome of it. So live because there is no other choice. Go out knowing that storms will come, darkness is there but so is the sun and light. Brighten some person’s day. When you can be the light for someone else, darkness has no way to be there. Until next time:

Don’t forget to love the way you want to be loved, listen the way you want to be heard, give the way you hope others give, care the way you want others to care, because change doesn’t start with them, it’s starts right here.

Madalyn Beck

That’s Not My Job

I cringe just saying those words. When we feel as if we are too good to do a job, then we are too big for our britches. I love to hear of the stories of people who started from the “bottom” and worked their way up to the position they are in. It somehow makes the job more worth it. It most cases it also humbles the person, making them willing to do any job that is put before them because they know it’s how they started out.

As a momma I hear this statement a lot from my kids. My hubby and I have set up a chore list that gets changed out each week, but there are times in which one of the kids will be asked to do something that is not on the list and this is when these words come out of their mouths. It’s a teaching moment for us parents to show them that they can help out the family unit even if they are asked to “go above and beyond” but it is a struggle at times to keep from getting upset when they flat out refuse to do the task. But then when isn’t it a struggle to raise kids. It will humble the most proud of people and at the same time make your heart swell with pride when they show initiative and do something without asking.

All too often I hear the words “it’s not my job” rolling around in my head when I don’t feel adequate enough to do the tasks set before me. This could be parenting, this could be in friendships, in confrontations, in life. I want to hide behind these words when I have feel inadequate, but it’s in these moments that I need to look to the one that is adequate and see where He wants me to go. I recently wrote in my journal about feeling threatened, but not in the normal way people would think. In the threat I faced it was about my inability to see my worth and so I started to see my way of life being threatened by change. I started to doubt my knowledge and skills. I started to think that the people around me didn’t want me around as much so replacements were being sought after. I was being threatened by my own toxic thoughts. The way I imagined myself coping with these thoughts was to spout “that’s not my job” when I knew what I really needed to do was change my thinking. In the children’s book I wrote called “Rae’s New Shine” (coming soon, email me if interested in purchasing), Rae lost her shine because she didn’t feel her worth, she had to change the way she thought of herself in order to get her shine back.

Our “shine” gets blemished constantly. The world throws us curveballs all of the time. If you have teens it’s almost on a constant basis. But if we ground ourselves in knowing who we are, and not what we are (i.e. wife, mother, cook, taxi driver…etc) we can get our shine back. God calls us sons and daughters in Christ. He doesn’t call us “what we do for a living in” in Christ but he does use our talents to help others. We may not be doing the job we thought we would be doing, and we may say “that’s not my job” a lot whether in our minds or sadly out loud, but we are still in the place we are in because we have been put there for a reason. Every day I give my kids back to God, I pray for them, and I love them to the best of my ability. I was not called to be their parent alone though, I have my hubby, friends and family but most importantly I have God who has boldly said “that is my job” He says that to everyone in all situations but we need to chose to say yes to His declaration and stop saying “that isn’t my job”. There is peace in knowing you don’t have to be in control, there is joy in knowing God is. Joy is strength and with strength comes the ability to be humble and do the tasks in front of you. This is living joyfully. Until next time:

All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.

Brene Brown

It’s Coming, I Can Smell It

There is something about the way fresh cut grass helps encourage summer to come, at least in my mind. The smell brings me back to my childhood when the weekends were spent doing things outside. My parents perfected the routine of kicking the kids out in the morning knowing we would keep ourselves busy until the sun came down. If we were not playing and going on adventures with friends my mom would drag out the old lawn mower and place one of us behind it to mow our corner lot. The mowing wasn’t the only thing we had to do, there was edging the lawn and weeding the “garden”. Try as we may our garden had more weeds than flowers but what we did get to grow was resilient to say the least. Most weekends us kids escaped before we were put to work, but not always. Normally on our “work” days the day ended with a BBQ where we ate it outside.

By the time I went to college and had a house I shared with 5 other gals I was a pro at yard work. I didn’t always like it but when I took on the yard that surrounded our house it became more of a calming practice for me. I loved to get head phones in and just start mowing. For a college house we had a huge yard. There were pockets of flowers, trees everywhere and an environment that boasted rain and lots of it. The grass always needed to be mowed. The smell of the fresh cut grass calmed my sometimes turbulent spirit. I used the time outside monotonously going around and around to talk to God. There were in depth conversations as well as conversations about what I had going on for the day. I always seemed to get energized too. The sun has a way of doing that, especially if it hides behind clouds and coastal mist most days. The college I went to was known to have classes outside when the sun was out. It could be colder than snot but we would be out there, basking in the sun’s rays.

I don’t much mowing of our lawn now a days unless I am helping my hubby get caught up on chores. I am hoping that the garden my daughter and I are trying to grow will succeed. So far, the sprouts give me hope. It’s amazing how memories from our childhood can make everyday moments seem better. We get busy, life happens, we get overwhelmed with events around us. I stepped out from work today and found the yard was cut. Some sweet soul came and took care of the jungle that was growing up around our building and it smelled divine. The stress of the day melted just a little bit as I stood eyes closed letting the sun hit my face. We need these moments of peace. We need to stop and enjoy our surroundings. We were not made to go, go, go. God made the world around us so that we may enjoy it, use it for the needs we need met, and to take care of it. He did not make us to run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, if he did the world around us wouldn’t be something for us to wonder at.

Wonder at the rays of the sun and the warmth they bring. Wonder at the fragrance of the flowers that pop up in the fields. Wonder at the way a bird can glide through the air but use the wind to get them to their destination with ease. Wonder at the way a storm can bring a double rainbow. Wonder at the way a fresh mowed lawn can make you want to pull out the lawn chairs and absorb the energy of the day. We are made to wonder, to enjoy and to praise God for the beauty of it all. Summer is right around the corner. I cannot wait to get “sun tired”. I cannot wait to step outside and not be cold. I cannot wait to stop and smell the grass…..oh and the flowers too. Until next time:

Butterflies cannot see their wings, but the rest of the world can. You. You are beautiful and while you may not see it, others can

Unknown

Colorful Sprinkles

Every morning no matter if it is 6am or 7am, when there is movement on the bed our puppy Charlie gets the tail wagging. She is crate trained and so she sleeps in her crate at night, so mornings are one of her favorite times. She watches for movement of any kind from my hubby or I and she starts with this quiet whine. Then when she sees that it’s working she starts the tail of happiness. Slow and steady at first and then when the door opens it is full force wag. This isn’t her only weapon of choice. She has to have a toy, it doesn’t matter which one but she must have one. Then it’s all out waggle time. Her tail wags so hard her butt moves with it. Then as she is waggling her prance around the room with her toy in her mouth finishes off the routine. Most days we are up and getting ready to take her for a walk with her brother Jorj, but weekends, weekends are the day of snuggling in bed before starting the day.

Charlie is the best kind of alarm clock. It’s not always easy to want to get out of bed much less get the day started. She makes it that much easier. She is my morning sprinkles. My son had his birthday party this last weekend and requested cupcakes. So as he and his friends were carted off to the movie theater to watch his chosen movie my daughter volunteered to make the cupcakes. At first she was going to make the cupcakes black since my son likes to play Dungeons and Dragons but the end result was pink. Go figure? When I asked what happened she said she decided to go with red but got pink instead. The fix to the pink was to add sprinkles.

Sprinkles at the pop to the top of a cupcake, they had the pizzaz to the hot fudge sundae, they are the fun to the whip cream on a fruit smoothy. When we interact with people we can be the sprinkles on top. During tax season one of the businesses has a person out near the road that holds a sign telling people to come in and get their taxes done. This person is suppose to catch your eye with the sign and with their movements. Most of the time it was a person standing there that looked bored and cold, but on most mornings as I drove by I would see this gal just seemed happy. She waved at people but she did it with a smile. That’s adding on the sprinkles!

We do our day by day, day in and day out. Most of us have our routines. Parents work to get kids ready for the day, men and women get ready for work all the time. Kids navigate school, friends, peer pressures as best as they can. Let’s face it we all have stress in some way and capacity. It’s not easy to be the sprinkles for someone else when you feel overwhelmed in your own life. You know what though? Actually adding in the sprinkle time will make your day better too.

This weekend was full of things that needed to get done. It was also full of cupcakes with sprinkles, cornhole with my son and his friends, and a surprise visit to an airport and hour plus away just to see my sister and her hubby before they hoped in a rental car to get to their final destination. This weekend was very tiring, but I am a happier person because of the fun I got to have with other people. I got to be sprinkles for others. There is a time and place for everything. This includes going out of your way to do something fun or special for someone else.

Charlie is an automatic sprinkle spreader. She can’t help it. We can become an automatic sprinkle spreader with practice. Smile at someone you don’t know. Look someone in the eye. Call a friend and say “Hi!” Text someone who may be doing something hard and tell them they are doing a good job. Make some cookies, try a new recipe and invite a friend over. Walk the dog (yes even dogs at time needs some “sprinkles”). There are so many ways to spread joy. We just have to get past what our tunnel vision is to see where more joy is needed. Until next time:

Kindness and joy are free, sprinkle that stuff everywhere!

Oh I know them!

It’s funny sometimes the amount of people I think I should know living in a small town and working in a field in which pets are involved. I walk into the store or go to my son’s baseball practice and realize I don’t know very many people at all.

While at work today it was a different story, I felt like I was at a friend reunion. I saw people I haven’t seen in months while others I had seen a few weeks ago. Knowing people can be a status symbol though. People love to throw names around of people they know that are important in their eyes, when in reality the people are just people who have a certain job or lifestyle.

A friend of mine started her new job this week. I saw her today and saw someone who was unsure of her environment because she was new but knew that once she was able to open up she would do amazing and her co-workers would love her. In my mind she is important and valuable, but if I were to introduce her to a new person they wouldn’t necessarily know that until they got to know her. Something I learned years ago is that those who are known for doing something important in societies standards don’t always want to be put on a pedestal.

This sweet couple I met a few months ago had this awesome dog. The dog was older and not doing as well as he once did in his prime and so when it was time for them to say goodbye to him I was honored to help them. The wife was this sweet gal who wanted to make sure that her husband was supported during this hard time, and was very comforting to him. The husband wanted to make sure his pregnant wife was supported and got the help she needed when their dog needed help going outside or getting cleaned up. They both took care of each other and loved deeply. They came in to our hospital recently with a new dog. They had to wait for some results on tests so they opted to go outside and enjoy the sunshine. This is where I met up with them. They both were as sweet as ever. I gave the gal a big hug and was introduced to their new fur kid. We caught up for a little bit and then I had to head inside.

This couple hold jobs that society deems as important, but that doesn’t matter when it comes to being kind and being loving. When it comes down to it, people are just people. We should treat them as such. Having friends who are pastors, doctors, teachers, stay at home moms/dads, receptionists…etc. It doesn’t matter what their title is, know them for them, not the job title. In a world that deems you important by how many people you know or how much money you have. Being the loudest and the proudest is seen as the best.

The most important people in my life can be loud, and sometimes are too loud, but what really stands out about them is the quiet. The acts of kindness they do for others. The humble nature they have. Their willingness to help others. When I think of these people I proudly say I know them, and it’s not for what society deems important but for what the heart deems as important. I love to say, “oh I know her, she helped me when my husband was oversees” or “oh I know her she was a stronghold when I had younger kids and now that they are older she keeps me sane”. I love that I don’t need to say things like “see that guy, did you know he’s a doctor? I hung out with him a few times” or ” that gal sitting there, did you know she owns that store downtown?” Whose important in your life? Why? Is it because of status or because of the person they are? Staying humble and true to yourself will attract people likewise. Until next time:

You are already amazing, you are already worthy, you are already enough, you are already deserving, you are already blessed, you are already healthy, you are already abundant, you are already loved.

That’s all you need to remember today

Unknown

Fears

What is it about fears that make us so irrational? Having a healthy fear is not bad, it keeps us from doing stupid things like touching a hot stove, or jumping in front of a car. When the fear becomes bigger than our willingness to do something it has too much power.

When I was a kid I loved to play with spiders. I would sit on the front steps and watch them make their webs. I would bring them dinner at times too (though I stopped that when I felt bad for whatever insect I caught tried to get away and couldn’t). As funny as it is I even had a “pet” daddy long leg that lived in my family’s shower. Spiders were not a bad thing in my mind until I saw the movie ”Arachnophobia” in the movie theaters. From there on out spiders had a scariness to me. I could be close to one, if there was one over my doorframe I couldn’t leave the room. If I ended up squishing one, I had to quickly get it off the bottom of my shoe just in case it was still alive. I remember one time helping my best friend clean out her garage and we found a black widow in a box. We burned the box. I have no idea what was in there but it didn’t matter. When I started working in the vet world, a tarantula was brought in for being sick. That was the day I felt brave.

When I couldn’t get it to let go, I admit I was almost in tears until the doctor I was working with “saved” me.

This is just one of many fears that are out there. I have a family member who is afraid he’ll get left behind or forgotten if he gets dropped off somewhere. Some people are afraid of heights, others are afraid of going too fast (like on rollarcoasters). Sometimes there are rational reasons why people have these fears. Some people feel that you can condition these fears out of people. I don’t really know the answer and sometimes it can be frustrating when dealing with someone who is overcome by one of these fears, especially when you can logically show them they’ll be ok.

The Bible says there is no fear in love. We were not put on this earth to be fearful. We are to live. We are to share with others. We are to love others. We can’t do these things if we are constantly allowing a fear or fears keep us planted where we are. When my kids were younger I tried to show them what it was like to take healthy risks. So they learned that helping others was ok. They learned that doing sports was ok or taking dance lessons was ok. They saw their dad and I take risks, we were scared sometimes but we didn’t let fear overpower us.

As I am sitting at my son’s baseball practice, I am watching him be brave. This is out of his comfort zone. He thought he would be playing on the same team as his best friend, but instead he is on a team that he didn’t know anyone the first day. He has mandated that I wait at the field for the whole practice due to another fear he has, but even if I couldn’t stay and watch, he has shown that he is ok. My best friend has to be brave, she has fears coming at her left and right. Her daughters look to her for guidance and she happily gives it to them. I know she has said ”no” to the, before when it comes to trying new experiences but it is rare. She does not have an easy life but she does not allow her fears to stop her from living her best for herself and her family.

Fears are roadblocks we put in front of ourselves. They either have the spikes that deflate our tires or they are ones that with a little extra strength we can master and overcome them. I pray for my kids often. I want them to have strength that comes from joy which ultimately comes from love. There is no fear in love, and love has joy wrapped around it. This is where we get our strength, our patience, our boldness, our humility. Imagine how much better our lives would be, our world would be if we allowed love (joy) to rule us instead of our fears. Until next time:

Negativity is contagious. Unhappiness is contagious. Fear is contagious. But so is happiness. So is optimism. Some is love. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. And strive to be a reflection of what you want to receive.

MichellCClark


Best Laid Plans

Ahhhhh, the weekend is here, time for things to get done. The work week was long, after work meant family time and of course the ever present game practices, church and other “outside of the home” activities. Weekends are to get caught up on life. There’s a lawn to mow, a garden to plan, and meal prep for the coming week. This was the plan, we were supposed to stick to the plan. Until we couldn’t, enter the stomach bug.

All was good Friday night, then early Saturday morning my stomach said some things that shouldn’t have been said. It protested and cried, so I protested and cried and ended up on the couch most of Saturday, trying to figure out what I did to make my stomach so mad. I have some thoughts of what happened but at the end of the day it didn’t really matter, I had to nurse my poor stomach back to health. So the plans I had were laid aside. Step in my family. My family is pretty wonderful as it is. We don’t always get along, we fight sometimes but when push comes to shove we pull together to take care of each other.

My hubby stepped in the most yesterday. My eldest daughter had to go to work, which is usually something I do, but he made sure she got there. I slept. My son fed the animals and played with them, I slept some more. My middle child laid low so that I could rest, which I did. By Saturday night not all of the things we wanted to get done got done, but I was given the time to rest, and food was brought to me when I felt I could eat it.

Sunday I was much better and all those plans for the weekend didn’t all get done but that’s ok. Sometimes I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to get this or that done. We already have the pressures of work, family and life why do we feel the need to add more? We are one of the only countries in which it is a status symbol to be busy, to be worn out. How is this a good thing? No wonder we have more illness, more anxiety, more irritations. Don’t get me wrong, we need to push ourselves, but we also need rest. I was talking to a gal the other day that at one point had too jobs, her husband worked and she was homeschooling her kids. There is no break in that. I couple of years ago, I was doing that (other than the homeschooling part) and I was WORN OUT! At that point I realized that I needed a rule. So I set a rule that said the weekends were for me and my family. I didn’t work, I didn’t take phone calls from work (and almost anyone else) and I did the stuff that needed to be done for me and my family.

This rule isn’t 100% guaranteed to be set in stone, but it did make were best laid plans could be altered. Family trips could be planned, and I could be me without the stress. Sometimes it takes mentally telling myself to turn off parts of my brain so that I can be creative, fun and there for myself and family. This week is promising to be busy again. I thrive in busy but only because I know that I have a break coming at the end of the week. Best laid plans are just that, plans. Rest is needed and very important. How lovely to thrive to be more stable: God/family/work/rest. I for one don’t want to be know for how busy I am, I would rather be known for how kind I can be, how joyous I could be, how loving I could be. How about you? Until next time:

Be the kind of person who isn’t afraid to ask someone if they are ok twice, if they say they are, but look like they aren’t. Be the kind of person who smiles at people even if they don’t smile back. Be the kind of person you wished for when no one was there for you. Be the kind of person who is brave enough to stand alone in a crowd for what is right. Be that person because we need more people like that in the world. Be that person because people like that are rarer than the rarest diamonds and gold.

Nikita Gill

Inner Dialog

A few weeks ago I wrote a book. I geared it to be for kids. I wrote it for people like me. This book sits in my computer’s saved file. Will it ever see the world? Time will tell. This book is about self worth. About finding your shine. It’s about being strong when you don’t feel like it. It’s about being kind when inside your head you are not kind to yourself. It’s about being bold enough to still go on in with your day even if everything feels off. It’s about being humble but still acknowledging that you have worth. It’s about being proud of the things you have accomplished without being full of pride and thinking that you are better than anyone else. It’s a book that I should read daily.

Be Strong, but not rude.

Be Kind, but not weak.

Be Bold, but don’t bully

Be Humble, but not shy

Be Proud, but not arrogant

Jim Rohn

Our brain is a wonderful thing. It will adapt to the thoughts we have. If we make it a point to be more positive and to think more positive we will start to have a more positive outlook. We all know that person who seems to go through life not letting anything really bother them. They seem at peace with the world around them. They don’t have an easy life per say but they have chosen to take it day by day, hour by hour. On the flip side we all know that person who seems to have a chip permeantly on their shoulder. Life is hard, people are hard, nothing is their fault and the world owes them something. Two ends of the spectrum and most of us fit in the middle. We have good days and we have bad days.

Our inner conversations are what guide our outlook. When I first wrote my book, I needed to hear the words that I had written. I good friend of mine had confronted me about not being approachable at work. She knows me pretty well and can tell if I am off, even if I don’t know it myself. She is also the person that will tell me I am good at what I do and that I am a good person. She is an encourager with a hint of realism. She doesn’t let my head get to big for my shoulders if you know what I mean. What I took from her conversation with me is that I don’t know my worth. My inner conversations with myself hold doubt, fear, mistrust in some people, and pride. My inner conversations also hold love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. What I chose to listen to is how my outlook of myself becomes.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him (Jesus) because He first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19

We were made who we are to be who we are. Our thoughts we have can be changed to joyful, encouraging thoughts. These then can be used to create a community in which we lift each other up. God made us in His image, God is love, and so we are love. There is no fear in love. Fear brings in self-doubt, a prideful mentality, a tear down of who we are, jealously and envy towards others. Love brings the opposite. It helps us to be bold, humble, kind, proud, strong. We need to be love more than anything else in this world. It will make us shine! Until next time:

Six ethics for life: Before you pray-believe, Before you speak-listen, Before you spend-earn, Before you write-think, Before you quit-try, Before you die-live

William Arthur Ward

Spring Joys

This week was filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, all a part of life in general really. I absolutely love the spring season. The flowers and trees start to bloom out, I start to get excited about the upcoming garden that I know will just be amazing this year (despite not having a green thumb). Life just seems to come alive again after the cold winter months drive it into hibernation, or for us humans inside where it is warm.

This spring season brought baseball into my sons life. He wanted to start playing because his best friend was playing, so we signed him up. We went out and bought him the gear. We talked to his best friend’s mom and made plans for them to go to their practices together after school. We arranged the calendar and our lives to be busy every weekend until summer. We were set. Winter took our plans and shook them up a bit though. After the teams were made (my poor son ended up on a different team then his friend) and the first practice was to take place, storm number one came to town. And just like the postal service, rain or shine the kids practiced. I stayed in the car where it was warm. My son is at his second game today. It really is fun to watch the kids learn and grow in a sport. It’s fun to sit in the bleachers and dream about how far your kid will get in the sport they have chosen to try. It’s fun to cheer them on, even if at the moment their only goal is to try and hit the ball.

My “garden” was started a few weeks ago with some seeds from the local store, some raised beds build for the garden out front and some high hopes that maybe, just maybe this year I will have more than just one cucumber and a head of lettuce. I have a secret weapon this year though. My middle child said she wanted to help. She went with me to the store, helped build the beds, researched with me on how to start the garden inside so that we could transplant them outside. She even offered to keep up with the watering of the seeds. We were smart enough to make a backup plan though. Self watering pots! They have been a lifesaver, seriously, I think we have seedlings purely for the fact that they were put in the self watering pots. It’s easy right now, the plants are inside. After Memorial Day they’ll get moved outside, which means out of our line of sight. Dear Lord, I hope we got sturdy plants!

Spring has a way of putting a “spring” in my step. I get energized, and feel like I can take on whatever comes my way. Joy comes bubbling up. There are times when it feels like life in general has seasons. I have heard people describe times in which they felt they were going through a cold spell, or a dry season. Spring is new life, new opportunities, new joys. My husband loves to hang clothes on the line, it brings with it a smell that just emulates joy. Today he turned the heater off and opened the doors and windows. There is a slight breeze but the sun is out at shining bright. The temperature is still a whopping 60 degrees, but it feels heavenly compared to the wind/snow/rain/20 degree mixture we have had the last couple of weeks. The dogs got to go on a run this morning with me, the yoga mat was thrown aside, instead the deck was my yoga place.

Joy comes in the small things sometimes. The smell of laundry hung on the line. The crack of the ball hitting the bat. The garden that is starting fresh. The sweet nap of a happy puppy. There will always be highs and lows in life. Even when you feel you can’t find the joy in the moment, you just go into your memory bank and think of the smalls that have brought joy to your life. The memories won’t fix the lack of joy but they will help enhance the moment you are in. Until next time:

The things you believe to be your limits will disappear as soon as you move closer to them

Unknown

Sizzle in the Air

Ruth woke up early just as she did every morning. She had the goats to feed, and the donkey and her colt had to be let out into the back field to graze. She knew if she didn’t hurry she would miss out on the breakfast her mom had already started to prepare. Ruth dressed quickly and splashed some water on her face hoping it would help her to wake up. Once outside the coolness of the morning woke her up the rest of the way. The farm always seemed busy, always had some sort of smell and noise that came along with it, and today was no different. Once her chores were done she went inside just in time to see her mom put the last bowl on the table.

The rest of the day was Ruth’s so she went to go see if her friend Sarah could play. Ruth knew that if her dad or one of her older siblings caught her doing something that wasn’t work they would put her to work as quickly as they could. She was very good at not being seen, which seemed to work in her favor. As Sarah and Ruth played they noticed a large crowed coming down the road that led to Jerusalem. The townspeople also noticed and stopped what they were doing to watch. Sarah and Ruth were so curious they ran to the road to get a closer look. That’s when Ruth noticed the donkey. It looked really familiar but when Ruth noticed a man sitting on it she thought it couldn’t be her family’s donkey until it got closer and she saw that it was. The donkey was the colt her family owned so why was this man riding it? Ruth ran home to tell her dad what she saw. When she walked through the front door she heard her brother telling her dad that when the two men started to untie the colt, he asked them what they were doing and they said “The Lord is in need of it” and so he let them take it. How odd she thought, but what did she know she was just a child. Little did she know how the world would change in the days to come.

Still pondering what she saw the day before Ruth did her chores again, but this time she noticed something different about the day. At first she couldn’t put her finger on it until it hit her, the world seemed quiet. Not a normal quiet, a quiet in which even the animals didn’t seem to make a noise. It was almost as if the land and all living things did not make a peep. Not only was that strange to her but there was a feeling in the air like all things were holding their breath waiting for something to happen. Ruth wondered if it had to do with the rumor heard about the man she saw on her family’s donkey yesterday. She overheard her neighbor say he was charged with doing something awful, but didn’t understand the word used. How awful it would be to die on a cross! Whatever was going on created a current in the air like when lightening is close by, it was enough of a fear for Ruth that she decided she was better off inside with momma.

Dinner that night brought only talk about what was happening in Jerusalem. It seemed to be the only thing on everyone’s mind. The man hung on the cross was said to only be a carpenter from a small town but he was charge with saying he was God’s son. The only thing that was talked about more was the strange things happening all around. The darkness, the earthquake, it all seemed so strange. By morning all seemed to be “breathing” again. The world woke up energized. As strange as the day before being silent, this new day was louder than any time Ruth could imagine. It felt as if even the rocks were making noise. The talk now around the village is that the man that was hung had been buried but this morning the guards woke to the tomb being empty. How could that be? Even when Ruth asked her momma she was surprised that a grown up didn’t know, but Ruth knew even as a child that her life would never be the same.

Easter Sunday brings shouts of “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!” Easter is the hope of all Christians, it gives us hope in what is to come. It’s the day before when Christ was buried that should be noticed as well. The world was silent, God was silent. It’s as if all living things had collectively sucked in a breath and held it, waiting for the “what’s next?” to be answered. To have the collective release of that breath the next day with the empty tomb. God was silent, but he was still Present. In the times in which we feel alone or when life feels like it has left us mangled and beaten we may feel as if God is silent in those moments but He is there. We just have so much noise going on in our heads, that we miss the quiet movements of strength surrounding us. Easter is hope, and in that comes joy. Until next time:

He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.  Come and see the place where he lay     Matthew 28:6

That’s Not What I Wanted To Hear

When I was younger it never failed, I would get up in the morning, run to the standing heater and try and wake up. While in the midst of trying to warm up/wake up my mom (who had been up for hours) would start to list off the things she wanted me to do that day. It would take all my willpower and strength not to growl and spear her with daggers coming from my eyes. I definitely did not want to hear what she had to say. She wasn’t purposely trying to have me glare at her but she was already in “go mode” for the day and was subtlety trying to get me there too.

My dad did this too but in a different light, whenever we went on vacation to Yosemite National Park (which was almost every summer of my childhood) he would let us know that every other day while there we would be doing a hike. Most of the time these hikes were all day and meant that we would have to get up early and do a bunch of switchbacks in the sun. I know there was grumbling and growling going on, but it never changed his mind, and we always ending up on a mountain.

As time went on, and my family grew my kids were receiving the same treatments I got. When chores were not getting done, there would be reminders. When we went on vacations that had mountains involved we would end up on a hike. When school work needed to be done, we would tell them about the reminders we would get emailed to us. These were things they most definitely did not want to hear about.

One of my hubby’s favorite things to say to me is “next time….” and then he would tell me a way I could do something better next time that I had talked to him about. He never meant these “next times” to be annoying, he actually would be trying to help, but man would I get so upset when he threw the “next time” in there. I didn’t want to hear what he had to say, because that meant that I didn’t do it good enough the first time.

The people we have in our lives are there to help us, whether it’s to help us see we need to move on or move up in our own growth. When my momma would list off the chores I needed to get done she was teaching me responsibility. Yes, letting me wake up would have been better, but I learned that she trusted me to get done what she asked. When my dad told us of the hikes we were going to do, they sounded nearly impossible for someone that was “young” but those are the memories I cherish the most. If I would have refused to go and defy him I would have missed out on the packed lunches on the side of a river. I would have missed out on the views of the valley on top of a waterfall. I would have missed time spent with my family that instilled in me the importance of family strength. Don’t tell my hubby this but if I would have just set my pride aside and listened to his “next times” I would have had an easier time doing some of the tasks that I was doing.

This past weekend was Palm Sunday. Jesus was going into Jerusalem on a donkey. The religious leaders were telling Him he needed to quiet His disciples because they were celebrating too loudly. They did not like that they were seeing the Old Testament prophecies coming true before their eyes. Because they did not like what they were seeing and hearing they were going to miss out on what Jesus was offering. They had no power to change what was happening. They tried everything, and would be ordering His death soon. Even in that, the most unthinkable thing to happen, would not stop what Jesus was doing, and they would miss out because they did not like what He was about.

I would hate to miss out because I didn’t like what was being said, or if I didn’t like what was going on. In my life I would have missed out beautiful views because of a hard hike. I would have missed out on learning because I didn’t want to open my ears to listen. I would love to say that if Christ told me to go I would go without hesitation. My faith isn’t as strong as I would like it to be though. I am getting there, I am trying to listen and I am trying to obey. I would hate to find out that I missed out on something so life changing all because I didn’t want to take the time to stop and be still while He whispers. Listening and hearing are too different things. Listening and acting on what we hear is what shows maturity and humility. Who wouldn’t want to have these qualities? Until next time:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.     Romans 15:5

Overwhelmed?

There was just a little time before the next appointment came in. There were phone calls to be made, medication scrips to be filled and hospitalized patients to be taken care of. There was questions to be answered and receptionist to get back to. Online orders to be filled and so on and so on. To top it off my oldest texted saying that she was not feeling good and I was thinking how bad would it look to have my hubby take off to get her from school when it’s his last day of work. I had a tow truck company scheduled to “break into my work truck” to retrieve the keys I locked inside decide that they would come earlier than scheduled and “oh by the way, is there someone that could meet us at the truck?” The list could go on and on especially if I added in the last two days but I won’t. I can’t even say that I am upset about the events that have been happening, I can say I am a bit overwhelmed.

None of the above is meant to be complaining. Most of this is what happens on an average day at this thing called life. When days like these happen the cracks that might be in the exterior shell of my sanity can either grow bigger or they can be held tight by the strength that is found in the deep down joy that has been given to me. The struggle is real, when choosing to complain or choosing to celebrate in the trials. It is so much easier to go along with the crowd and find the negative. When there is that one person that is always used to place blame on, it makes the blame that should be yours “easier” to bear.

This past weekend my daughter and went to a training at our church. We are a part of the children’s ministry program teaching the “educated toddlers” as my daughter calls them. We have the joy of spending every other Sunday with 3-4 year olds. Man if there is a class that can teach you about joy or complaining it would be this class. While doing our training though we were being taught how to teach the kids we were with, but the main thing was to show them they are important and loved. As the pastor was talking I thought about what it meant to show the kids I taught that they were important. This sent be down memory lane to when my dad used to work in the toddler room at the church we used to go to.

Growing up, my dad was the breadwinner, he would go to work every day, come home and would want to relax. We knew he loved us and he tried to show us in different ways his love. Sometimes it was small gifts he brought home, other times it was having us play the computer games with him. He was our solid foundation. We knew dad would always be there for us and he was. As we got older and started doing our own things he started to work in the church toddler room. He would usually show up before the kids got there and would get the toys ready, and as they started to get dropped off he would say hi to them and then go back to playing with the toys around him. Eventually the kids would notice that he was playing with toys and go to him. A lot of times they were unsure, but every time he worked he would do this same thing. As time went on the uncertainty of what he was doing wore off and by the time the parents came to pick up their children he had kids in his lap, and kids sitting around him all playing with the toys he himself had been playing with. He showed the kids in that classroom love by consistently being there, not being pushing about what he was doing and patiently waiting for them to come to him.

His method worked almost every time. He told me once that he started to work in the toddle room more and more to give the kids there the attention he would have loved to have given us when we were younger. My dad did his best when we were kids. I can bet he was overwhelmed more than we knew and he never let us see it. When my dad was in that room full of kids he loved on them, and let them know they were special to him. He showed them who Christ was every time he showed up.

This past week was overwhelming, this past weekend it would have been so nice to skip the training grab a book and stay in all day reading. Instead I went, I learned, I grew and I was blessed. I was able to learn again from my dad. I was reminded that the God I serve is so humble that he had a “triumphant ride” into Jerusalem on a donkey colt that had never been ridden. There were so many times that Jesus could have said “I am too overwhelmed for this” but he didn’t. The strength he had to go through all he did was from the deep down joy He had and the ability to show us we are important and loved. How great is that! We don’t have to do this alone. Find your strength from the joy inside you, it’s there you just have to allow it to permeate your life. Until next time:

I don’t want to adult today. I don’t even want to human today. Today, I want to Goat. Gonna eat all day and head-butt anyone who tries to stop me.

Unknown

What’s your worth?

One day a young lady woke up and she knew something was different. She got out of her bed the same way, made her breakfast the same way and got ready for her day the same way. Something still felt off. When she stepped outside to walk to school that’s when she first noticed the difference. Though the sun was shining it never let it’s rays fall on her. All the people and places around her were surrounded in the sun’s rays but she could never seem to get warmed by them. It was like she was walking with a cloud or a shadow above her. When she got to school she thought for sure the lights inside the building would shine on her like everyone else, but sadly even inside there was a dimness around her that only she could see and feel. She tried to ignore what was happening. She tried to go about her day as if she were the same as everyone else, but eventually the dimness started to get to her. She started feel anxious and fearful that maybe something wasn’t right. She didn’t know what to do and she hoped that the next day would be normal again. Sadly though, the next day and the day after that were the same, she seem to just stay in this world of grey, as if she didn’t deserve the brightness of the light.

After the third day of this she got on her knees and prayed. She knew she should have done this sooner but she was so worried about what was wrong that she forgot to ask the one person who could tell her. Her prayer wasn’t a special eye opening prayer but a simple one in which she asked that her heart and ears be open to hear what she needed to hear. While reading a book before bed she remembered something. A day before she was put into the dimness she had shown her friends and family a painting she had done that she was proud of but she had never been too sure of her skill. Those who saw it praised her and told her how wonderful it was. If someone were to ask any one of them they would say that they were not surprised at the talent the girl had. Even with the praise and the encouragement to keep doing more paintings the girl still didn’t believe in herself. She just thought they were being nice. She didn’t know her worth. She wondered if this memory was there to help her understand the predicament she was in.

The next she talked to her mom, she told her what was going on and that she didn’t know what to do. The girl really wanted to be back in the rays of the sun, she wanted to be back in the same light as everyone else. She even told her mom about the day she showed everyone her painting. As she finished talking she noticed that her mom had this simple smile on her face. She invited her daughter to sit with her on the porch. As gently as she could the girl’s mom hugged her and said with love “my child, you don’t know your worth, and that is why you are not shining as bright as you could” It wasn’t that the sun’s rays were not shining on the girl, or that the lights in the building at her school were more dim when she walked through them. The girl did not know her worth and so she started to see the world around her as more bright because to her everyone else had more to offer. Once she started to believe in herself, once she started to understand and see what others saw in her, once she understood the love that God had for her and the talent He gave her, the dimness would start to fade away. She would start to see herself as brightly as what she saw in her environment.

We so easily become this girl. A new person gets hired on at our job to learn to do the job we are doing, our light gets dim. A lie is told about us, our light grows dim. Someone does something better than us, our light grows dim. We mess up, we fail at something, we fall, all these things will cause our light to grow dim. When this happens the world around us seems to be brighter and we just can’t seem to understand why we can’t get into that light. We are our own barriers. When we know our worth, when we know that God loves us and wants our lives be filled with joy, we have strength. We can go through hard times and failures and still shine just as bright as those around us if not brighter. We are all unique, just as we should be. How boring this world would be if we were all the same. When we shine bright because we are confident in who and whose we are we can share our brightness with people around us. It really doesn’t matter if we are an adult or a child, there are times when our shine isn’t as shiny. It’s in these moments we need to seek God and see if we fell into the trap again of not accepting our worth. The world is a beautiful place filled with sparkling, shining people accepting who they are and helping others to find their sparkle too. Do you shine brightly, or do you walk around in a world that needs more light? Until next time:

…and today is the day, stand out, stand up, stand your ground. Be the “who” that you are and be proud, and when you feel that you can’t make a sound, right there is the time when you’re supposed to get loud. Wake up, get up and do something.

Excerpt from a song on the radio
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